Melissa York, Reporter
Monday, January 21, 2013
A judge described a sham charity collection business as “despicable” for using their greed to take advantage of the public’s generosity.
Thedropsofhelp Ltd, registered at Chichester Close, Beckton, was ordered into liquidation in the High Court for falsely claiming to be a not-for-profit organisation collecting clothes and other items for the needy.
But an investigation by The Insolvency Service and Trading Standards found none of the money was given to charity - in fact, the collection bags were shipped abroad and sold at a profit.
Thedropsofhelp Ltd delivered bags to households with a picture of a dishevelled young girl biting her nails next to the statement: “The drops of help in your hands will support the poor families, orphans, and asylums. Help them today, not tomorrow...”
The company was run by Vaidotas Puzas and his wife Asta Puziene who stated their average turnover was around 15 tonnes of clothes per month.
They pleaded guilty to 10 charges under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations at Dartford Magistrates Court on October 23 before their case was committed to Maidstone Crown Court on December 21 for sentencing due to the “highly organised and misleading” nature of the scam.
After calling their actions “despicable”, His Honour Judge Griffiths-Jones QC gave Puzas a two year sentence suspended for two years, 250 hours of community service, and a £1,000 fine.
Puziene received 150 hours of community service for her role and the company was fined £10,000 plus £2,000 prosecution costs.
Neither of the defendents can act as director of a company for five years.
Following the court’s decision, Chris Mayhew, company investigations supervisor, said: “This company took shameful advantage of the public’s charity thereby damaging genuine charities by taking items that may otherwise have been donated to them and by harming people’s faith in giving altogether.”