Hertfordshire residents warned ‘don’t be fooled by ‘RNLI’ tricksters’

A CHARITY has said it is “extremely concerned” scammers are trading off its name to con residents.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) spoke out after hundreds of counterfeit leaflets were seized from a van in a police-led sting.

The van had been stopped at South Mimms Services on May 19 as part of Operation Utah, a multi-agency operation which saw 11 people arrested and dozens of vehicles taken off the roads.

Trading Standards officers found the leaflets, claiming to be from the RNLI, rolled up with white bin liners to look like charity collection bags.

The leaflets provided a list of suitable items for collection and asked for them to be put in the bags provided and left outside in a place which is visible from the road before 9am on certain dates.

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They also claimed all collected clothing would be offered to the RNLI.

However, subsequent investigations revealed the leaflets and sacks were not connected in any way to the RNLI or its genuine collection company, Local Community Recycling Services.

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Rhys Parker, the RNLI’s corporate partnerships officer, said: “Genuine RNLI sacks have a plastic envelope with the RNLI’s details printed directly onto them – charity number, charity statements, legal statements, contact number and the day of collection.

“In addition, the sacks inside are also branded with the RNLI and collectors’ details. We do not issue leaflets with plain white or black bags.

“We’re extremely concerned members of the public are being misled into thinking they are supporting the RNLI when they are not.

“The RNLI is a charity that depends on public support and are very grateful for all donations received, generating essential funds that help us to maintain our lifesaving service.”

“We would ask members of the public to be vigilant and check bags they receive carefully.”

County councillor Keith Emsall, executive member for community safety, said: “This was a cynical attempt to trade on the reputation of the RNLI which relies on donations from the public.

“It may look like a minor crime, but the Association of Charity Shops says bogus collections cost UK charities at least �2.5m to �3m a year.

“Fraudulent activities like this damage genuine charities who need our help to support the work they do.”

An investigation into the source of the leaflets continues.

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