A North London couple who sent an email to all their friends and associates explaining that the money they would have spent on Christmas cards has been donated instead to ‘a well-known charity’ have been unable to produce any records of any such payment.
Mike and Michelle Brooks of Hampstead came unstuck when one of their friends wrote to them asking for details of the charitable bequest that had replaced his annual Christmas card, and then refused to be satisfied with a vague response that it had been ‘a homeless charity’.
‘John wouldn’t let it go’ said a mutual university acquaintance who had also been informed he wouldn’t be getting a card from Mike and Michelle this year. ‘He contacted me and all the old crowd and insisted that unless receipts or bank statements could be produced showing where and when the money had gone to charity, then everyone on their former Christmas card list had been the victims of an organised email fraud.’
Mike and Michelle ignored subsequent solicitor’s letters and legal petitions hoping that John would just forget about it. But the couple were eventually subjected to a dawn raid by the police, who then questioned them separately for several hours until they finally confessed to never having bothered to work out how much cards and postage would have cost or getting round to sending off any money. ‘I thought Mike was posting a cheque…’ claimed a weeping Michelle as the couple were charged with several counts of fraud. ‘I did give some loose change to carol singers’ pleaded Mike as mitigating circumstances before he was led away.
The ‘Hampstead Charity Cheaters’ as they have been dubbed by the tabloids, have been refused bail and will now spend Christmas behind bars. A phone vote in the Daily Star recommended they spend life in prison. It is not known what motivated their old friend to precipitate the police enquiry, although it was noted that he had kept last Christmas’s card on the mantelpiece all year with Mike and Michelle’s message that read ‘Let’s make 2007 the year we meet up again.’ Apparently no meeting was ever arranged.