Con artists have hijacked fundraising efforts by friends of a boy who nearly drowned while on holiday in Majorca.
The sale of Callum Hope bracelets has been raising cash for the family of seven-year-old Callum Wingate, who is seriously ill in Leeds General Infirmary.
But it has now emerged that unscrupulous opportunists are cashing in by manufacturing similar trinkets to sell to unsuspecting buyers – without handing over the money.
Callum’s mum, Lorraine Siddle, of Belle Isle, Leeds, said: “I think it’s disgusting. I don’t know how they can live with themselves.”
As reported in the YEP last month, Windmill Primary School pupil Callum was left fighting for life after slipping unnoticed into a 2.5m-deep swimming pool at the Playa Blanca hotel in the S’illot resort on July 29.
He lay at the bottom for several minutes before his lifeless body was seen. He had no pulse for about half an hour before paramedics revived him.
The youngster has defied doctors who thought he would not survive and has recently opened his eyes and started smiling. But he is likely to have long-term brain damage.
Lorraine, 35, a child minder, and Callum’s dad, Robert Wingate, 48, are keeping a vigil at his bedside at LGI.
Their friend, Yvonne Wolstenholme, and her daughters, Calia and Caitlin, started making and selling the bracelets to support the family.
The family, who are also from Belle Isle, have sold about 1,300 of the accessories so far.
But Yvonne, 41, has been told that a counterfeit operation had sprung up. Other people who have taken bracelets from her to sell on her behalf have kept the proceeds.
Yvonne said: “How can you have it on your conscience to steal from a little boy who is seriously ill in hospital?”
Five outlets are selling legitimate Callum Hope bracelets: St George’s Cafe in Middleton, Londis on Middleton Road in Belle Isle, Belle Isle Post Office, Munchkins in Morley and the Royal Armouries.
So far about £2,000 has been raised legitimately for Callum and his family. A charity fundraising day is being planned at the Hunslet Club in Hunslet on Sunday September 30.