Charities lost more than £8.5m to criminals over the last year

Fraudsters and cybercriminals stole more than £8.5m from charities over the last financial year, latest figures have revealed.

According to data from Action Fraud there were 1,059 separate incidents of fraud reported by charities from April 2020 to March 2021.

The figures have been published to highlight Charity Fraud Awareness Week (18-22 October), which involves a raft of charities, regulators, and anti-crime groups.

But the latest Action Fraud figures could be much higher, according to the Charity Commission, which says that “fraud is known to be underreported”.

Charity Commission chief executive Helen Stephenson added: “Sadly, as these figures we have released today show, there remain criminal individuals who would take advantage of organisations that seek to do good and of those that generously donate.”

Further new figures, released by Fraud Advisory Panel, show that almost two thirds (65%) of charities believe the pandemic has increased the risk of fraud facing the sector.

The figures, based on a survey of 70 charities in September this year, also show that more than half (53%) believe the health crisis has made it more difficult for them to manage the risk of fraud.

In addition, 14% do not invest in fraud prevention at all and 90% anticipate that the risk of fraud is expected to remain at the same level of increase.

“With fraud and cybercrime at record levels it has never been more important for charities to be aware of the risks and how they might be affected,” said Fraud Advisory Panel chair David Clarke.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, charities need to recover and flourish without fear of fraud. Taking relatively simple measures can go a long way to protecting your charity and keeping it safe from harm.

“It is concerning that a small minority of charities still do not financially invest in fraud prevention activities.

“This shows that there is still more to be done. We encourage charities to sign up to the pledge to help protect themselves and minimise the risks.”

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