Samantha Davies visited bars and clubs in Wolverhampton claiming to be raising money for a number of charities, including Cancer Research and New Cross Hospital. A judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court said she had preyed on the generosity and decency of the unsuspecting public.
The court heard how Davies, of Dunstall Road, Wolverhampton, had visited Yates, Numa Bar, Slade Rooms and a number of pubs in the city centre asking people to fill out forms and donate money.
The 40-year-old would put the cash straight into her handbag and would use it to fuel her drug addiction, the court heard. Judge Nicholas Webb said: "There must have been hundreds of victims and you have caused damage to the charities themselves." MrDavid Lees, prosecuting, said: "Between December 1, 2012 and December 10, 2013, she committed fraud in that she claimed to be raising funds for various charities and that monies collected would be forwarded to those charities."
He told the court that a probation officer had spotted Davies in Yates Wine Bar, in Queen Square, carrying an official looking form, saying she was collecting for Cancer Research. "Another complainant saw her in The Wheatsheaf public house in Market Street, where she was collecting money for Cancer Research at New Cross Hospital. "
Mr Lees told the court that the owner of Numa Bar, in North Street, had seen her in the bar almost every Friday for six months from December 2012. He was a witness to cash being handed over by customers and that went straight into her handbag," Mr Lees said. "She continued for six months. There was a short break but then she came back and said she was collecting money for Children in Need. He said she must have made thousands of pounds in cash."
Mr Lees said Davies had 55 previous convictions, including 22 offences of deception or fraud. She appeared in court in February 2012, when she was jailed for 16 months for claiming to collect money for Compton Hospice and New Life, a children charity based in Cannock.
Mr Jon Roe, for Davies, said she felt genuinely ashamed by what she had done. He said: "She has written to the charities to apologise for her behaviour. The drug addiction she suffered with often skewed her moral compass."
Davies admitted one count of fraud at a hearing last month.