BOGUS charities are hiring school children to seek donations door-to-door from the public, a social service group warned yesterday. The Hongkong Council of Social Service said it had received 43 calls this month from pupils, saying they had been recruited to raise funds for dubious organisations. The agencies could often produce staff badges, reference letters and photographs purportedly of the organisations for which they claimed to be raising funds. But when checks were made, the ''charities'' were not listed with the Government. The summer workers would take the photos and documents and ask people to donate money, mostly through door-to-door visits to commercial units rather than residential blocks. The fund-raising objectives vary from the publication of annual reports, expansion or improvement of facilities, to organising vegetarian meals or Chinese opera shows for the elderly. Ah Man and Ah Yuk (not their real names), who will be in Form Four and Form Five next year, answered a newspaper advertisement and went for interviews this month for summer jobs at an advertising agency in Mongkok. The agency told them it was raising funds for the Mei Lun Care Centre for the Mentally Retarded and Disabled in Yuen Long. Ah Man was a bit suspicious from the beginning: ''We had to pay $20 for a staff card and our basic salary was only $4,500, which was $1,500 less than what was offered in the advertisement. ''Also, the commission was calculated on a very complicated formula and was only paid on condition that we could raise at least $15,000,'' she said. But Ah Yuk was more confident and they decided to join. Ah Yuk said she phoned a number said to belong to the Mei Lun centre and because an operator answered, she believed it was a genuine charitable group. However, a real estate broker approached by Ah Yuk for a donation was suspicious and notified the council. It was discovered that Mei Lun was not listed in the government registry of charitable organisations. The two students, who quit after less than a week's work, said about 30 summer workers had been recruited by the advertising agency. Prettier girls were asked to seek donations in amusement games centres. Although the council does not know how much money the bogus charity may have raised, Ah Yuk collected more than $1,000 in less than a week. Ah Man said: ''I feel angry about being cheated. The job was difficult and I even had to pay my own transport fees.'' Another victim was 16-year-old Lam Wai-keung, who was looking for a summer job after finishing his Form Five examinations. He contacted an agency claiming to raise funds for an elderly hostel. He was offered a basic monthly salary of $3,500 and a bonus of $50 out of the first $1,000 donation plus $100 out of each subsequent $1,000. Wai-keung collected money in arcades in Mongkok, Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tai Po. His father, Peter Lam Pak-leung, became suspicious and consulted the council's social service hotline. ''I am worried that swindlers are making use of the innocence of children in such an illegal way, and I think parents should not force the children to earn money in the holidays back when they are not ready to do so,'' said Mr Lam. The council's chairman, legislator Hui Yin-fat, said such fraud often emerged around the summer holidays. People can check which charities are genuine by calling the social service hotline on 866 8123.