Charities lost £2.7m in fundraising fraud last year, research finds

Criminals posing as fundraisers diverted more than £2.7m away from charities last year, according to figures released during Charity Fraud Awareness Week.

The figures also reveal that in the 12 months to October this year there were 501 charity crime fundraising fraud reports.

Criminals took money from the public through methods such as fake appeal websites and emails falsely claiming to be from genuine charities.

Setting up fake charities and bogus appeals are among other methods.

Action Fraud has released the figures amid Charity Fraud Awareness Week, a week of activity to warn charities of the dangers of fraud.

“All year-round, charities across the country work tirelessly to help those greatest in need,” said Action Fraud head Pauline Smith.

“Some fraudsters may take advantage of our generosity; they may claim to be raising money for a fake organisation or impersonate a well-known charity. This can block legitimate donations, but also impact the good work of the charity.

“Most fundraising appeals are genuine, so the risk of fraud should not put you off giving to charities. Instead, follow a few simple steps to ensure your donations don’t end up in the wrong hands. Make sure you do thorough research before donating, to be confident that you are giving safely to legitimate organisations.”

The Charity Commission, which is also involved in promoting Charity Fraud Awareness Week, stresses that “most charity fundraising is genuine”. It is urging the public to check charities' name and registration number on the regulator’s charity register before handing over money as most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.

“The incredible generosity we see from the British public stretches even further during the festive period. We want to encourage and support this incredible good will,” said Charity Commission chief executive Helen Stephenson.

“Make it tougher for fraudsters by following a few quick and simple checks, such as looking up a charity on our register, before donating to a cause you care about. More than ever, it is vital every penny reaches the sector.”

Free events taking place during Charity Fraud Awareness Week include a focus on tackling cyber crime on 30 November and on 1 December a webinar on tackling fraud involving crypto currency donations will take place.

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