CHILDREN in Need has warned members of the public to be on the lookout for ‘fundraisers’ in fake Pudsey bear costumes who may not be collecting for charity.

Friends of Calverley Grounds (FOCG) urged caution after a person dressed in a copycat bear costume, complete with eye-patch, was seen “shaking a donation bucket” around Tunbridge Wells. Nicholas Pope, chairman of FOCG, said the bear was spotted around the grounds on Thursday (October 19) but did not say which, if any, charity it was collecting for.

“The bear does not look official and I was a bit suspicious of it, the costume looks a bit worn out, so people were a bit wary of the bear.

“It was just breathing heavily and if anyone tried to speak to the bear it just shook the bucket, it did not say anything. I think it might have been a bit scary for some people.

“We sent out warnings on social media. I wanted to make people aware it may not be an
official thing.”

Kent Police have received no calls about a “fraudulent bear”.

Children in Need said the bear is not an official Pudsey costume and that fraudulent lookalikes are uncommon.

A spokesman said: “We advise all our supporters not to collect money in the street or any other public place without a licence from their local authority.

“If anyone is unsure about a collection happening in their area, we would recommend that they ask to see a collection licence and contact the police if they suspect the activity may be fraudulent.” Children in Need is a corporate charity controlled by BBC which raises money for UK childcare.

Their fundraising centres around an annual live fundraising broadcast on television, which this year will be held on Friday, November 17.

The spokesman added: “Every year, thousands of fundraisers across the UK help raise money to change the lives of disadvantaged children and young people and instances of fraud are very rare.

“We would urge anyone who is concerned about collections in their area to contact the police if they suspect the activity may be fraudulent.”