Tasmania Police warning after reports of fake donation collectors in Launceston

Christmas is the time for giving but as charities begin collecting holiday donations residents are being warned to watch out for scammers.

This week, The Examiner received reports of a person claiming to be collecting on behalf of the Empty Stocking Appeal.

A woman was reportedly doorknocking in Prospect with two children and the matter has been reported to the police – The Examiner does not door knock.

Launceston Inspector Darren Hopkins said scammers would try to take advantage of people’s generosity towards those less fortunate at Christmas. 

“Tasmania Police has received information about a person doorknocking to fraudulently collect money for The Examiner’s Christmas Stocking Appeal,” he said.

“If someone knocks on your door seeking donations, ensure they have identification and can provide you with a receipt with the charity’s details. You can also call the charity to check they have a representative doorknocking in your area.

“Anyone who impersonates a charity to receive money is committing an offence under the Criminal Code.”

Donations for the Empty Stocking Appeal can only be made at Fairfax Media’s offices, at businesses displaying an Empty Stocking Appeal tin, through online banking or by post.

Funds contributed to the appeal go directly towards four local charities – Launceston Benevolent Society, Launceston City Mission, the Salvation Army and St Vincent De Paul’s.

The Benevolent Society's John Stuart, The Salvation Army's Anita Reeve, St Vincent de Paul's Ann Piper, and City Mission's Vanessa Cahoon gear up for The Examiner's empty stocking appeal. Picture: Scott Gelston.

The Benevolent Society's John Stuart, The Salvation Army's Anita Reeve, St Vincent de Paul's Ann Piper, and City Mission's Vanessa Cahoon gear up for The Examiner's empty stocking appeal. Picture: Scott Gelston.

Salvation Army regional manager Anita Reeve said the organisation also does not doorknock at Christmas.

“We don’t actively go out and collect at Christmas time, it’s more about trying to generate interest around our Christmas appeals, so the Empty Stocking Appeal and our Bag of Love campaign,” she said.

Ms Reeve said the not-for-profit charity only door knocked during their Red Shield Appeal in May but even then collectors could be identified by their official lanyards, labelled Salvation Army volunteer and signed by an authorised person.

Likewise, Launceston Benevolent Society chief executive John Stuart said “we don’t doorknock, we don’t ring up people on the phone to ask for money”.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scam Watch says there are a number of warning signs when it comes to “fake charity scams”.

  • You've never heard of the charity before.
  • The person collecting donations on behalf of the charity does not have any identification. 
  • You are put under pressure or made to feel guilty or selfish if you don’t want to donate.
  • You are asked to provide a cash donation as they don't accept cheques. 
  • You are not given a receipt.

Report charity scams to police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.