Brixton Soup Kitchen founder Solomon Smith has described as “heartbreaking” a scam that used the soup kitchen’s name and image to steal from charity donors and collectors.
And he has urged caution and vigilance because he fears the scam could be easily and cheaply repeated by heartless criminals.
Brixton Soup Kitchen (BSK) became aware of the problem after several people who said they has been employed to collect money for the soup kitchen became concerned about what was going on after they were not paid as promised.
They had been recruited by people working from a temporary rented office that is now empty, but contacted BSK directly to ask if any of the money they had collected had reached the charity.
It had not. Solomon Smith said that the amount thought to have been collected and then spirited away might have paid for a full-time worker for BSK.
It was very upsetting, he said. The soup kitchen, founded by Solomon and Dr Mahamed Hashi in 2013, relies entirely on donations to fund its work and, because of where it is and what it does, has to jump through hoops and be “150% transparent” about its work and fundraising.
“Stories like this can make things ten times harder,” said Solomon, who is due to launch a new book, The Solomon Smith Success Story – Born into a Dyslexic World at Brixton library on Monday 29 October.
BSK has contacted police, the Charities Commission and Action Fraud, the official national UK body tackling the growing problem of scams and deception.
The collectors were told to collect from the public in the West End, saying they were raising money for the soup kitchen. Some worked for six weeks before they realised they would not be paid.
Solomon Smith warned that anyone could buy official-looking buckets and collecting containers on eBay and tell people that they were collecting for charity.
Real soup kitchen collectors have proper identity documents and sealed buckets, and can show official flyers and information. They must fill out forms to confirm what they have collected that are signed off before the money goes straight into the bank.