A gang of morally corrupt fake charity ‘bosses’ have walked free from court after hoodwinking members of the public to hand over more than £500,000 in donations.
The fraudsters employed an army of fake veterans to try and convince generous members of the public to hand over money.
Often, the ‘walts’ would wear berets and other items of military clothing to make the public think that there were handing over money to a real veterans charity.
Donors were told that their cash contributions would be used to help disabled soldiers when, in reality, the money was being used to fund the lavish lifestyle of the morally corrupt people behind the scam.
The fake veterans would wear ‘save our soldiers’ tops with cammo trousers, and they were placed at various railway stations around the country.
The scam lasted for two years and was the front of a complicated network that involved several organisations.
David Papagavriel, 57, Terence Kelly, 73, Ian Ellis, 59 and Peter Ellis, 31, were given suspended sentences and ordered to perform unpaid work.
During the case, which was heard at Wood Green Crown Court, Judge Kalyani Kaul QC said:
‘No one here needs a lecture on the crisis that this country faces and the importance that charities play in our communities.
‘We need to give money to them to help those who have suffered whether physically or mentally from their work, to have as good a life as we can.
‘What you did was take public money given in to help those they perceived to be soldiers who fought for their country and needed our help.
‘People gave, large amounts were given, none of use will know how much that was, we only have what we have.’
Papagavriel, of Picasso Way, Shoeburyness, Southend-on-Sea admitted fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment suspended for two years with 250 hours unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay back £31,606.50 within three months or serve six months in jail.
Kelly, of Howard Place, Canvey Island, Essex admitted two counts of supplying the charity commission with false or misleading information and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years with a five-month curfew from 9 pm to 7 am.
Peter Ellis and Ian Ellis, both of Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, admitted one count of theft each.
Ian Ellis was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years, with five months curfew from 9 pm to 7 am.
A confiscation order with the nominal value of £1 was made against the Peter and Ian Ellis with the understanding that they must pay £57,000 if they are able to in the future.
Peter Ellis was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work.
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