Warning over poppy merchandise scam ahead of Remembrance Day 2018

Warning over poppy merchandise scam ahead of Remembrance Day 2018

Field of Remembrance planted at Belfast city hall

Hundreds of poppies on crosses have been placed at The Cenotaph at Belfast City Hall, at the official opening of The Field of Remembrance.

The Royal British Legion memorial, marking the centenary of the end of the First World War, is a tribute to the men and women who lost their lives then – and in subsequent wars.

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Sisters, Jean Pollock and Anne Sloss, attended the memorial to pay tribute to relatives who died in the World Wars but also their brother, James McFall, who was killed serving in the UDR 41 years ago.

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"I put in crosses for my son and my brother, my father and my great uncles," said Terry Bashford.

Meanwhile in Dublin, thousands of visitors have already been to see the six metre high sculpture of the first World War soldier made from scrap metal.

The haunting soldier was installed near the entrance to St Stephen's Green at the weekend serving as a reminder that there are no borders in sacrifice.

Each year many of us make a small donation to the Royal British Legions (RBL) charity Poppy Appeal, which raises money for the families of military service men and women who have lost their lives fighting overseas.

The institution also puts money towards surviving veterans and those currently serving. Paper poppies are worn in remembrance of past conflicts, with this year marking the centenary of the First World Wars armistice. RBL has registered for intellectual property rights for its poppies to prevent counterfeiting.

However, one hundred years on from the Great War, RBL and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), part of the government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, have warned your donations could be lining the pockets of criminals.

Both organisations are now both working with the police to clamp down on the illegal sale of counterfeit merchandise such as poppy-themed scarves, jewels, pins and brooches, which are sold to unsuspecting members of the public in the mistaken belief their money is going to a good cause.

The polices intellectual property crime arm has said it is now targeting suspected sellers of counterfeit items. Last year Border Force officers at the port town of Tilbury intercepted a shipment of sham poppy merchandise worth around £150,000. Smaller quantities were also intercepted being brought in by air freight via Heathrow Airport.

The IPO confirmed that all counterfeit poppy merchandise seized so far has been imported from various destinations abroad, after the problem emerged in 2017.

Sam Gyimah, Minister of State, said people buying poppies this year needed to be vigilant and look out for the approved RBL logo to ensure their purchases are genuine and approved.

It is truly shocking that anyone would target and exploit one of Britains most cherished charities and take advantage of public support for our armed forces, he said. Together we can ensure donations go to the people they are intended for, by only supporting approved merchandise.

Claire Rowcliffe of RBL urged people to only to buy from trusted volunteers, the legions online poppy shop or from a legitimate corporate partner of the charity.

It is a sad fact that there are people who actively defraud the public in order to take funds intended for the support of our armed forces community, she said. We want to ensure that money goes to supporting those who have made such a unique contribution to our society.

If you spot someone selling fake remembrance day merchandise that bears the shape or image of the RBLs two-petal poppy, or Poppy Scotlands four-petal poppy, you can call reporting service Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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