Police are carrying out a fraud investigation after claims a ‘Santa’ was booked for home visits in Thanet but failed to turn up, despite a payment being made – leaving families concerned over the whereabouts of gift and money donations and for the man’s welfare.
Posts were made on social media offering to visit families and bring small gifts in the run up to Christmas. Many members of isle Community for People facebook page say they arranged appointments and made donations of money and presents for the visits.
But there are allegations that the visits were not made and there has been growing concern both over the whereabouts of donations and the welfare of the individual involved.
One mum, who wished not to be named, told The Isle of Thanet News: “I donated £10 and also booked a visit with him for my 4 year old son and 10 month old daughter, due to be on December 23.
“Upon seeing the status asking of his whereabouts and saying he hadn’t turned up for visits, I messaged him but got no response.
“I booked with him as my son has a sensory processing disorder and queuing in crowds can often be very difficult for him, especially for long periods, so I thought being in our own home would make it a more comfortable experience.
“I’m going to have a very upset boy on Saturday who I’m going to have to comfort and find a reason to give him as to why Santa can’t visit.”
Another mum claimed she had donated £20 and was expecting a visit for her children on Tuesday (December 19) but Santa was a no-show.
It is reported that an appearance at a St Peter’s Christmas fair also failed to materialise.
Symone Connelly, who is an admin for the community page, has been arranging replacement visits and gifts, even donating some of her own childrens’ presents.
She has also secured a Santa for Christmas Eve to visit anyone who had previously arranged one. Contact her on the facebook page here
Kent Police confirmed officers are investigating a report of a fraud taking place in Margate this month.
A spokesman said: “It is reported that a man offered to visit homes in the area to deliver gifts while dressed as Father Christmas, in exchange for payment.
“A customer has reported that he failed to attend their address after receiving payment and officers are conducting initial enquiries.”
Anyone with information can contact Kent Police on 01843 222289 quoting SI/ZY/11330/17.
The Isle of Thanet News attempted to contact the ‘Santa’ but has not yet received a response. A welfare check has been suggested.