A Belfast man narrowly avoided imprisonment today for posing as a charity collector to go on a "rampage of dishonesty".
Jason Black had his five-month jail sentence suspended for two years after admitting a series of fraud offences.
The 20-year-old, of Fitzwilliam Street in the city, was also ordered to pay back £2,400 that he took.
He faced eight counts of falsely portraying himself as a properly accredited SOS charity volunteer.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard how the victims, including businesses, were targeted on dates between June 2013 and January 2014.
Black had wrongly portrayed himself as a representative of the organisation, using a clip-board and clothing as part of the scam.
He was further charged with stealing a man's wallet containing bank cards and then making off without paying for a hotel room in the city.
The court heard how he used a card to book into Jury's Inn last December.
A £75 bill for the stay was never paid.
In October a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to show up for a court appearance.
But today guilty pleas were entered when the charges were put to him.
Defence barrister Michael Boyd acknowledged: "This was a rampage of dishonesty."
The lawyer stressed, however, that in contrast his client had been candid with police.
District Judge Fiona Bagnall said Black's masquerading as a charity collector was an aggravating feature.
Although Mrs Bagnall held that the offences crossed the custody threshold, she decided against sending him to jail immediately.
Imposing the suspended sentence, the judge warned Black he will be in prison for a considerable time if he commits any further crimes.
Compensation orders were also imposed as part of the sentence.