A GANG of fraudsters dressed as Pudsey Bear to trick shoppers into handing over £500,000.
They also used marketing material from charities including Children in Need, The Children’s Society, MIND and Great Ormond Street Hospital to pretend to be legitimate collectors.
Over a decade, they repeated the scam at supermarkets across the country with only a fraction of the cash given to the proper causes.
Ringleader David Levi used his loot to fund luxury holidays and also had a Hummer motor imported from the US.
Under investigation, he was asked about 196 cash deposits totalling £47,835.55 made to his Santander account between 2011 and 2017.
He claimed he was working as an escort, had inherited £100,000 cash from his dad and won at a casino.
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But Levi, 49, of Lytham St Annes, Lancs, admitted fraud and transferring criminal property charges at Preston crown court.
He and six others will be sentenced today for their parts in the scam.
Prosecutors agreed that if Levi paid £60,000 compensation, they would not seek a Proceeds of Crime hearing.
Richard Atkins KC, prosecuting, said: "The reality was that only a fraction of the monies handed over by members of the public ever reached the charities.
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“In some instances it is obvious that monies were only deposited with the charities following a police intervention or other enquiry – obviously as a smokescreen."
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