Town centre fundraisers claiming to support war heroes were left nursing their battle wounds after a local veteran confronted them for ‘ripping off’ the public.
Former soldier John Walker, aged 35, said he suspected a pair of collectors were not genuine, despite wearing jackets branded with Excalibur Unit – a small charity supporting military families.
John. who toured twice in Iraq said: “They were hassling people and getting in their faces. I’m a veteran of the Army with 10 years’ service and I hate seeing people playing on the love of the Armed Forces to line their own pockets. There has been a massive increase in bogus collectors operating.”
The two male fundraisers – who have been seen around the country – carried cards quoting the charity’s website and registered charity number, but did not display their names.
An Investigation has revealed the men work for a fundraising company called Orrsome Support Ltd, which is confirmed to keep 80 per cent of all merchandise sales.
Charity regulations state any professional fundraisers collecting on a contract must identify themselves as being separate to the charity.
Lorry driver John, who lives in Forest town and left the army as a Corporal in the Queen’s Royal Lancers, also reported the pair to an online group called the Walter Mitty Hunters’ Club, which specialises in “shaming” fraudsters claiming to be war veterans, which they call “Walts” in reference to the famous fictional fantasist.
There is no insinuation that the fundraisers claimed to be war veterans themselves.
John added: “These men are out to make a living. Everyone should be on their guard because if they knew 80 percent was kept they wouldn’t donate.”
Wendy Read, a trustee of Excalibur Unit confirmed Orrsome Support were in Mansfield over Christmas and also quoted the 80 per cent profit margin, although 100 per cent of cash donations go to the charity, she said.
Andy Gregory, of the Royal British Legion, said people posing as fundraisers is becoming increasingly common.
He said: “Fundraisers need permits to collect and it’s up to us all to challenge them, because this can lead to a loss of trust from the public.
“It’s not the established charities like us which suffer, but the smaller charities who do some smashing work.
“People like this reduce the public’s trust in them.”
The boss of fundraising company Orrsome Support Ltd, Colin Pye, responded to claims that his cost margins of 80 per cent were a ‘rip-off’.
He disagreed that the public may find it hard to stomach that only 20 per cent of merchandise sales, including charity wristbands, goes to the charity.
He said: “Ninety per cent of customers understand there are overheads. Our charity (Excalibur Unit) has been going for eight years and we’ve raised a lot of cash for them, at no cost to them.
“Everybody moans about this 80 per cent. Do you think that 80 per cent goes in my pocket? The cost of each wristband is 22 per cent, we pay 30 pound a day in travel once they are in the town, and 100 a week in travel to a town. They get a wage and I’m not going to hide the fact,” he added, claiming that the company is small, with only two fundraisers .
“Walter Mitty Hunters Club are chasing people away from our charity, they’re taking money away from a lot of little charities.”
Orrsome Support employs two fundraising agents and raises exclusively for Excalibur Unit and the team were photographed in Westgate on December 23 wearing jackets and IDs emblazoned with ‘Excalibur Unit, but did not name the company their worked for.
Mr Pye added: “They do have names on their IDs. They do. “If anybody asks us they say they work for a company called Orrsome Support that works on behalf of Excalibur Unit. If customers ask us how much of the money goes to the charity the agents will say 20 per cent.”
He further claimed Excalibur has grown its income from £4,000 a year to more than £100,000 thanks to the company’s pair of roaming fundraising agents.
The charity’s annual statement in 2014-15 stated its total income was around £70,000 – £15,000 of which was raised by Orrsome Support. According to its last annual accounts with Company’s House, the firm had no income at April 2016 and £4,904 in assets.
More information about regulation of charity fundraising can be viewed here.