Gardaí in Meath have warned of ‘piggy-backers’ who are “taking advantage of genuine charity collectors” and other services in the run-up to Christmas.
The alert was sounded after reports of bogus collectors in towns where genuine charity groups were based.
Describing them as “chancers”, a crime-prevention officer said these people have also tried to gain access to homes pretending to be from companies who were actually working in the area.
Sergeant Dean Kerins has asked people to be vigilant and always ask to see identification and permits.
“In the last number of weeks, chancers have been piggy-backing to profit illegally at the expense of genuine charities and services.
“There have been a number of instances in Navan, Kells, Trim, and east Meath of groups of bogus charity collectors. They always seem to start bucket collections in a town where another group of genuine collectors have based themselves for the day,” Sgt Kerins said.
“They collect under the same charity name but are often intimidating and aggressive about it. They always disappear after a short while in case they’re rumbled.”
He said: “We don’t want people giving money to bogus collectors at the expense of real charities. If people have any concerns or suspicions, always ask to see their permit. You’ll find the bogus collectors will make an issue out of it or disappear pretty lively.”
Sgt Kerins also warned householders of a similar “bandwagon” scam involving companies working in the area.
“Last week, a caller tried to gain access to a house pretending to be from Eircom, which were genuinely operating in the area that day.
“Another caller said he was putting in water meters and needed to get inside a house in Ratoath. Water meters were being installed in Ratoath on the day but this guy was not with the company and left the home when asked for identification.”
Sgt Kerins said: “Incidents where gangs seem to try to sidestep genuine collectors and jump on the bandwagon to try and profit illegally seems to be on the increase and members of the public should be aware of it.”
Sgt Kerins highlighted the new ‘bogus caller cards’ given to homeowners, especially the elderly around Meath in recent months.
“If someone calls claiming to be from a company, the householder gives him the card to fill out all his details and come back another day. Genuine company representatives will have no problem doing this but would-be thieves will disappear.”