Conmen target charity

CONMEN are targeting local businesses pretending to be the Friends of Eastbourne Hospitals – pestering people for donations of £160 toward the fundraising group’s current appeal.

The official Friends team was alerted to the scam earlier this week when a local firm contacted them to check whether a faxed request for cash was genuine.

On paper headed “the Eastbourne Hospitals League of Friends”, staff at Jones Bootmakers were sent an invoice-like form asking them to process a £160 payment through their accounts department.

An eagle-eyed secretary became suspicious and rang the Friends to double check the details – only to find the group completely baffled as to its origin.

The police were then informed and a spokesman for the Friends contacted the Herald to make sure anyone who has received similar faxes – or follow-up phonecalls – does not fall foul of the underhand tactics.

Jancine Potts said, “It is the lowest of the low to try and pretend to be a charity to get money out of people.

“We would not contact someone to ask them for such a specific amount, or keep calling up afterwards. This could damage our reputation if people wrongly think it is us doing it.”

And it was an opinion shared by the group’s current chairman, Peter Nash, who said, “We are very appreciative of the support given to us by local businesses and are very saddened to hear of an approach by someone acting under the name of Hospital Friends claiming to be raising funds on behalf of the Eastbourne Hospitals.

“Neither we, nor our colleagues in other hospitals, are aware of this organisation and, if approached, urge extreme caution.

“If in doubt, please contact our office at the DGH.”

The number for that office is 411220 but anyone sent a letter, fax or receives a phone call is also encouraged to ring Eastbourne Police – particularly if people have handed over cash.

The genuine Friends group is currently running two fundraising drives – appealing for £260,000 to kit out a new endoscopy suit at the DGH and another £180,000 for new cardiology equipment.

People can donate by calling the above number or pop along to our of the group’s forthcoming events, the next of which is a Diamond Jubilee cream tea on May 12 at All Saints Chapel.

But, above all, locals should be careful that any donation they make is going to the right people.

“The people that are sending these faxes out are being quite blatant about it,” added Mrs Potts.

“We just want to make it clear it has nothing to do with us.”