THE founder of a Cork charity that was used as part of a scam has issued a warning about bogus door-to-door collectors this Christmas.
Karen O’Mahony, who founded the Rainbow Club for Children with Autism, was alerted to reports of bogus collectors in recent weeks.
She said that a number of male teenagers, posing as fundraisers, had made house calls in the Mayfield area. Karen warned locals to be on high alert for similar scams during the festive period.
Her message to the culprits was clear.
“As a mother of two boys with autism I am asking these boys to take a good look at themselves,” Karen said.
“Children with special needs have enough to be dealing with without having to put up with this as well. To think that there are people out there using children’s special needs to access money is completely unacceptable.”
She explained the necessary steps to take should any doubts arise around the legitimacy of fundraisers.
“The people who claimed to be collecting for us weren’t able to present permits when asked to do so. They left fairly quickly afterwards. It is believed they left in a car at the time so the best thing to do in this situation would be to take note of the car registration.
“The main thing to remember is that we have never under any circumstances asked fundraisers to participate in door-to-door collections.”
She was also concerned for vulnerable people in the area.
“A few people said that, while they didn’t get caught out, their elderly neighbour did which is a huge concern. Data protection regulations mean that criminals are now more difficult to identify. It’s no longer possible to take a photograph of the suspect to show to gardaí.”
She emphasised the potentially damaging effect bogus collectors can have on a charity’s reputation.
“This won’t make it easy for us. Everybody in Cork knows the Rainbow Club. However, the fact it is in the public eye also makes it more vulnerable. We represent children and their families. To abuse this, it’s just unacceptable. We are urging people to continue supporting us as this is a club that needs help.”
The Rainbow Club Centre for Autism currently supports more than 625 families in the Cork region but has more than 230 on waiting lists for its services. It is hoped that enough funds can be raised to purchase a two-story complex in Little Island to cater for thousands more in search of support.
To find out more about how to donate to the organisation email email@example.com or visit www.rainbowclub.ie