Consumer watchdogs have launched an investigation into bogus charity collection bins in Warwickshire recycling areas and supermarket car parks.
Officers at Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards team are probing complaints that thieves are putting the fake bins alongside genuine clothing banks to steal kind-hearted people’s donations.
Simon Cripwell, spokesman for the team, said: “Some bogus collectors are now placing clothing banks in community recycling areas next to clothing banks owned and operated by genuine charities.
“The bins appear to be roadside gritting containers that have been stolen, repainted and re-branded.
“In these cases it is likely that any donations would be sold for profit, rather than given to charity.”
He said one of the bins featured a sign for a genuine charity called Manacare, which brings aid to vulnerable children and pensioners across the world.
Mr Cripwell added: “The bogus clothing bank had been put in place without the permission or knowledge of village organisations and featured the name of a genuine charity that, when contacted, confirmed that the clothing bank was nothing to do with them.
“We are now urging village and town councils to check that clothing banks in their area have been placed legally and do not falsely claim to be for a charity.”
The news comes as several charities in Birmingham have lost out to thieves carrying out bogus door-to-door collections.
The Midlands Air Ambulance charity hit out after a clothes collection company was falsely claiming to act on its behalf.
And Staff at Acorns Children’s Hospices in Selly Oak and Walsall were left reeling after discovering thieves had produced counterfeit bags illegally using the charity’s logo and registered number to trick people into handing over their unwanted items.
The charity discovered fake bags were being distributed to homes across the Midlands.
Janice McPherson, head of retail at the charity, said: “Acorns relies on donations for the majority of its income and our shops are desperately short of stock.
“People who give to Acorns can be assured that 100 per cent of their donation is going to charity, and helping the most vulnerable local life limited children and their families, who are not charged for the services.”