CHARITY supporters who bought lottery tickets from stalls manned by men involved in an alleged fraud said they thought they were donating to injured war heroes because it “looked like a legitimate stand”.
Sellers from the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) UK Ltd, which had offices at Whitehills Business Park in Blackpool, travelled across the country between December 2009 and June 2010 to sell lottery tickets and claimed the money would go to injured servicemen and women.
Preston Crown Court heard from witnesses who said they were suspicious after handing over cash.
Prosecutors from Blackpool Council’s Trading Standards team contacted all of their witnesses through a questionnaire in an attempt to gather more information about the charity – operating under Keystone Fundraising.
Malcolm Kirkham wrote to Trading Standards officers in Warwickshire after buying tickets at a car show.
He said: “One of the sellers stopped me and said they were serving soldiers and had recently come back from war.
“After I got home I looked at the website for the two organisations and found they weren’t a registered charity.
“I was a bit concerned because I couldn’t see from what I’d found out that it was a true charity.”
William Knight, 51, of Midgeland Road, Marton, John Wadsworth, 46, of Church Street, Blackpool, and Patrick Jarrett, 49, of Teal Court, Blackpool, have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to defraud and possession of criminal property.
It is alleged they made more than £330,000 from selling the £2.50 raffle tickets and only donated £10,000 to Help for Heroes.
Kathleen Carrington was also contacted by Blackpool Council after buying her tickets in Harrogate because she believed they were representing Help for Heroes – the Armed Forces charity.
She added: “I purchased raffle tickets because it looked like a legitimate stand.
“I thought the tickets were for a charity I had donated to before.”
Christopher Hudson, defending Wadsworth, claimed Mrs Carrington had misunderstood what had been said to her. He said: “You have told the jury it was Help for Heroes you were contributing to but may I suggest to you there was nothing on the stall saying it was Help for Heroes, nor did the person who sold you your ticket say he was from Help for Heroes.”
Click here to read how The Gazette first reported the story: