Cheating North East pair tried to con charities

THESE crooks were exposed after cheating charities out of thousands of pounds.

Gregory Cameron

THESE crooks were exposed after cheating charities out of thousands of pounds.

Armed with application forms, Kathryn Ashcroft and Gregory Cameron were supposed to be knocking on doors to sign up householders wanting to donate towards charity.

But instead the pair, who worked for Marketing North East and were paid commission for each application, resorted to making up names and addresses, pretending to sign up scores more donors.

Ashcroft, 29, had submitted 21 incorrect forms while 24-year-old Cameron sent in 42 applications that were found to be made up.

Charities that were set to gain from their work included the RSPCA.

In total the thieves, who both pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, received £3,233 and £4,399 respectively from their employer.

Newcastle Magistrates heard yesterday that the pair were only caught out when the banks refused to set up the direct debits and sent out an attention report to their employer, Gary Lewis.

Becky Gibson, prosecuting, said: “Mr Lewis was alerted that two of his staff had a number of forms that were submitted, but rejected due to false details.

Kathryn Ashcroft

“When Mr Lewis received the report, he rang around all the numbers on each of Miss Ashcroft’s forms to ascertain if the householders had subscribed to the charity on the form.

“He discovered that every number was invalid. He called them both into the office and told them he would be ringing the police.”

When Ashcroft and Cameron were interviewed by officers they each admitted the donors were not genuine.

Lewis Pearson, defending Ashcroft, said: “Miss Ashcroft had a son to look after and had tried to leave before due to the intense hours. But because she was Mr Lewis’ best employee, he was extremely persuasive. She is extremely apologetic.”

Michael Gibson, defending Cameron, told the court in mitigation that his client hadn’t even had a police caution in the past.

He said: “It was a high intensity job and employment depends on returning forms. He felt pressure to hand in a certain amount.

“The RSPCA were never in danger and no individuals were ever going to have to pay out money. He knew they would bounce. Now he just wants to put it in the past and get on with his life.”

Mother-of-one Ashcroft, of Orlando Road, North Shields, was handed a four-month custodial sentence, suspended for a year. She was also ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid work as well as pay £1,500 compensation and £40 court costs.

And the case against IT technician Cameron, of Cartington Terrace, Heaton, Newcastle, was adjourned until next week for pre-sentence reports.

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