A man who dressed up as “The Banana Man” to raise money for charity has been convicted for fraud.
in 2016, Kevin Cole, 55, from Mitcham in the London borough of Merton, persuaded an old school friend to hand him £300 by pretending to be the manager of a charity.
He told the woman, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, that if she made a donation to the charity she would be eligible for a £30,000 home improvement grant.
In truth, Cole only worked for the charity as a volunteer fundraiser, and the charity never provided home improvements grants.
Cole also persuaded the woman’s daughter to quit her job by offering her a position as receptionist for another charity. She was 19 at the time and paid £100 for uniforms. However, the charity she was expecting to work for had actually closed two years before.
Cole had 22 previous convictions
On 21 July, after a trial at Inner London Crown Court, Cole was sentenced to repay £400 to the victims and to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. During the trial it emerged that Cole, who also goes by the name Peter Penfold, had been repeatedly arrested for fraud in the past and had 22 previous convictions.
Cole admitted to receiving the money from the victims. He also claimed to have raised £1.2m for charity dressing up as “The Banana Man”.
PC Carl Blissett, investigating officer for the case, said he was “disgusted” by the fraud.
He said: “He used the names of former charities to entice the victims to supply him with funds, raising their hopes that they might vastly improve their circumstances.
“Whilst this was a long and drawn out investigation and court process, it was worth every hour invested. No one should have their hard earned cash taken away from them in this callous way and I hope this outcome serves as a message to anyone committing fraud that not only do we take these allegations seriously, but we will find those responsible and hold them to account.”