Lancashire Constabulary Logo

Charity fraudsters jailed

Thursday, December 21, 2023

A FRAUDSTER who masterminded a gang which conned some of Britain’s best loved charities out of hundreds of thousands of pounds has been jailed.

David Levi used his office base in Blackpool to co-ordinate the fraudulent collections under the guise that the money would all be handed over to the charities whose logos were being displayed. The reality was that only a fraction of the cash ever reached the charities. Most was pocketed by Levi and his gang.

Among the charities who lost out were Children in Need, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity and The Christie cancer hospital.

Levi and his gang of fraudsters ran such a sophisticated scam that they even went as far as designing and making fake charity material including ID badges, pull-up banners and even a Pudsey Bear suit.


To try to cover his tracks Levi would contact each charity, obtain a fundraising pack and use this to claim he was a genuine collector in case he was questioned by store staff or the police.

The collections took place across the length and breadth of the country.

Lancashire Police launched an investigation – Op Musketeer – in May 2017 after a referral to Action Fraud by the BBC’s Children in Need charity.

In June police raided Levi’s home address and businesses premises and recovered multiple phones, tablets, and charity items. This led to the arrest of the further suspects. The team then built the case using financial, telephone and cell sighting evidence as well as surveillance of some of the collections themselves.

Six people, including Levi, admitted fraud and money laundering (details below) Another, William Ormand, was convicted after a trial.

They were jailed at Preston Crown Court today (Thursday, December 21) after a hearing.

Det Chief Insp Mark Riley, said: “When people donate to a charity they rightly expect that their money will go to supporting good causes and not to lining the pockets of greedy conmen like David Levi and his gang. They have exploited peoples’ goodwill and honesty to the tune of thousands of pounds, and I’m pleased that we have been able to bring them to justice.”

Hayley Cooper, specialist prosecutor from the CPS said: “The actions of David Levi and the criminal group deprived life-saving charities of significant amounts of money.

“Members of the public gave their money generously and in good faith, perhaps reassured by seeing the logos of national charities.  Sadly, the majority of the donations were pocketed by the defendants.

“Whenever money is collected for charity there must be absolute transparency and in bucket collections, every penny donated must go those charities.

“At the CPS, we have specialist teams to prosecute cases of serious fraud such as this and we work closely with investigators to bring perpetrators to justice.”


David Levi, 47, Fairhaven Road, Lytham. Admitted fraud and money laundering. Five years

William Ormand, 64, London Road, Blackpool. Convicted after trial fraud and money laundering. Three years four months

Martin Ebanks, 60, Oakley Drive, Oldham. Admitted Fraud. 18 months.

Roy Ferguson, 63, Park Road, Blackpool. Admitted fraud and money laundering. Two years five months.

Stephen Chesterman, 63, Eversley Road, Benfleet. Admitted fraud. 22 months.

Kaysha Beck, 31, St David’s Road South, Lytham. Admitted fraud and money laundering. 18 months.

Howard Collins, 73, Laburnum Street, Blackpool. Admitted fraud and money laundering. 28 months.

Collins Ferguson Ormand Levi

Ebanks Chesterman Beck