Lytham St. Anne’s Conman Collected As Pudsey But Kept the Cash For Himself

Clifton Drive resident, forty-nine-year-old David Levi, dressed as Pudsey the Bear to collect donations from the public for Children In Need – but Preston Crown Court heard that he kept the money for himself. For over a decade the Lytham St. Anne’s conman organised bogus charity collections at supermarkets across England and Scotland, donning outfits to con generous shoppers into parting with their hard earned cash.

Preston Crown Court heard that Levi and the gang went out into supermarkets claiming to be collecting for a host of well-known charities – which included not only Children In Need, but also the Children’s Society, MIND, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the Christie Fund. On occasions, they wore the famous Pudsey Bear outfits which they had bought online. On other occasions they donned T-shirts, logos and marketing material requested from familiar charities. Their aim was to give the impression that they were legitimate charity collectors. Instead, Levi and the gang pocketed the cash which had been kindly given in good faith by members of the public.

Conman Levi had said that he ran a legitimate fundraising business and relied on disability benefits and an inheritance from his father to get by. However, the Court heard that in 2015 he paid £12,500 for a 28-night stay at a luxury villa in Australia with a further £10,500 for luxury Emirates flights.  In 2017 he paid £5,000 to import a Police Dodge Charger vehicle from the USA. He also owned a Hummer and a flight simulator. During the Police investigation, Levi was questioned about 196 cash deposits paid into his Santander account between 2011 and 2017.  These totalled £47,835.55. Levi initially said he did not have any idea where that cash had come from before claiming he could have won at the casino a few times, he may have won it at the bookies, he was owed money by people or it could have been from anywhere.

Assisting Levi were:

  • Kaysha Beck, 31, who helped set up the charity collections in store.
  • Howard Collins, 73, who helped organise collections and went out collecting.
  • Martin Ebanks, 59, Robert Roy Ferguson, 63, and Stephen Chesterman, 63, who also collected for the conspiracy.

At Preston Crown Court, Levi pleaded guilty to fraud and transferring criminal property in connection with the Children in Need conspiracy, fraud in connection with the MIND and Children’s Society conspiracies, and fraud while on bail for the Children in Need conspiracy.

Beck pleaded guilty to fraud and transferring criminal property in connection with the Children in Need conspiracy.

Ebanks pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with the Children in Need conspiracy and the Children’s Society conspiracy. The prosecution agreed that if he paid £60,000.00 by way of compensation prior to sentence that we would not seek to proceed with a Proceeds of Crime Act application.

Chesterman pleaded guilty to fraud in connection to the GOSH conspiracy. He agreed to pay back £90,000 to avoid proceeds of crime proceedings.

Levi and the other defendants will be sentenced on Thursday 21st December.

Below Levi collects supposedly for the MIND mental health charity whilst wearing a red glittering trilby.


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