Watch out for the latest scam: Fake clothing recycling bins

Charities losing out as criminals leave their own bins in town centres

Local and national charities are being cheated out of income by an ambitious criminal who has started leaving fake clothes banks in towns and cities.

Fresh from scams involving convincing-looking plastic charity bags being pushed through people’s doors, the fraudsters are now thinking big, a national waste and recycling company says.

According to, it’s got to the point where local authorities are impounding dishonestly-placed “charity” bins which only exist to make crooks richer.

“The people are a blight on decent society,” says spokesperson Mark Hall, “They prey on people’s charitable instincts just for personal profit.”

BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours program highlighted the difficulty that local charities face against dishonest traders who steal donations of clothing from literally under their noses – with Manchester City Council telling the BBC that they had identified at least two recycling bins in the city with no markings.

“It’s certainly enterprising, but the bottom line is that they are taking money away from the needy,” says Hall, “And apart from trying to catch the crooks in the act of picking up their bin, there’s very little the authorities can do to apprehend them.”

The newly discovered fake bin con follows the tried-and-tested scam of fake charity bag collections, as well as stealing legitimate charity bags left out on doorsteps

“People are bombarded with charity bags, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell which are real and which are fake,” says Business Waste’s Mark Hall. “Legitimate charities are finding their names on fake clothes bags when they’re not even collecting in the area.”

And what happens to the dishonestly collected items?

The gangs will sort through “donations” and sell the best on the internet.

Other items are driven to Eastern Europe, where there is a boom in British-style clothing to be fed in local stores. None of the profits are returned to UK charities.

The rest, however, creates a problem, says

“These items – to put it mildly – are rubbish,” says Hall, “And these are not the kind of people who are going to pay trade rates at the local rubbish tip.”

Instead, the criminal gangs will double up on their dishonesty by fly-tipping their unwanted clothes, shoes and other items.

“They’ve got no social conscience, and they don’t care that the likes of you and I have to pay for the clean-up out of our Council Tax,” Hall says.

But with so many people trying to make a quick pound by fleecing charities, there are still sure-fire ways of making sure that you’re giving to the good guys.

“Fill those charity bags that come through your door,” says Hall, “and then take them to your nearest charity shop, who will likely welcome you with open arms.

“They don’t even care if your bag has another charity’s name on!”

What many people don’t know is that clothes, textiles, and shoes charity shops can’t sell are collected and taken away for genuine recycling. That way, even your most “useless” of gifts still raises funds. ‘s Mark Hall advises people to keep an eye open for fake collectors and to report them to local trading standards.

“That way, we can get these criminals off the streets, and restore trust in a system that they’re trying to con.”

free bins icon.

Have your waste collected

Get a fast FREE quote for your waste collection 0800 211 83 90

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK