Cheating charities will get found out

I was disappointed to find information from the “Action Fraud” unit of the City of London police that has investigated 270 reports of alleged charity fraud for England and Wales in the last 2013 quarter. The majority of us charity workers are highly committed to working our socks off for the benefit of various community needs and this is often achieved either voluntarily or on a low wage.

Particularly shocking, though, is that 35 of these relate either to the forces or to veterans. The word, “heroes” was the theme in 29 of the cases.

Other trends include people allegedly claiming to represent cancer patients (in particular Macmillan), children’s charities (in particular the NSPCC) and natural disaster recovery and international aid efforts.

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Convictions are not known, as some of the cases may still be active. This is a tragedy for the honest, fund-desperate charities that are at risk of cash flow in these harsh economic times. Those few that use the label of “charity” to selfishly line their own pockets undermine the legitimacy of proper charities. Registered charities have a charity number; yes, some unscrupulous people may be able to pull the wool over the Charity Commission’s eyes and become registered but their trading and accounts have to be presented to the Commission annually and this is where they can get found out.

I urge all charities to make sure that, not only should they check receipts from their workers, but also keep an eye on others that purport to represent a charitable cause. Any suspected fraud can be reported to the Action Fraud at the City of London Police 0300 123 2040, or directly to the Charity Commission of England and Wales at 0845 300 0218.

Tony Smith

Brownbread Horse Rescue