All organisations are at risk from fraud – being a charity is no defence

Watchdog warns charities and the public to protect themselves against fraudsters amid pandemic

1. Be fraud aware: –

All organisations are at risk from fraud – being a charity is no defence.

  • Be vigilant – in order to fight fraud, you need to find fraud.
  • Be sure your trustees, staff and volunteers know how to spot and report fraud.

2. Take time to check: –

  • Ensure your charity has robust financial controls in place and knows how to enforce them.
  • Is there a counter-fraud policy that staff and volunteers are signed up to?
  • Trust is exploited by fraudsters – be willing to challenge unusual activity and behaviour, whoever is involved.

3. Keep your charity safe: –

  • Prevention really is better than cure – taking simple steps now will help protect your charity from harm.
  • Building a strong counter-fraud culture is vital and will boost your charity’s defences.
  • Help is available – seek professional advice if you need to
  • Some charities may not even know they have been defrauded.

Helen Stephenson added:Sadly, the figures we’re seeing are likely to just be the tip of the iceberg. We know that fraud is under-reported, and I worry that the pandemic may have intensified that. Charities working remotely may be slower to discover fraud in their new environments. We cannot fight fraud if we cannot find it, so I’d urge anyone involved in charities to speak out if they see anything suspicious.

“Check before you give”The regulator also fears that the public’s generosity could be abused before cash reaches charities. Action Fraud has received reports of a scam email purporting to be from HM Government asking for donations to the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Anyone wanting to support NHS charities can search for charities via the new register of charities and should always check for a registered charity number before giving.The Commission has published advice for the public on how to ensure they are giving safely to registered charities.

Helen Stephenson warned:The fundraising efforts we’ve seen over the past 6 months have shown the British tradition of charitable giving at its best. We must not allow that generous spirit to be knocked by criminals. My message to everyone is to give with your head as well as your heart: always check you are donating to a genuine registered charity before giving.

Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, said:It’s a sad reality but unfortunately criminals will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. This can have a huge financial impact on charities and the good causes they support.

Recently, criminals have been taking advantage of the increase in charitable donations being made during the coronavirus pandemic, setting up fake charities or impersonating well-known ones. We would encourage people not to be put off donating to charities, but instead to be vigilant and make sure you do your research to ensure you are giving your money to a legitimate organisation. Don’t let your donation end up in a criminal’s pocket.

Remember, if you think you’ve been the victim of a fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud online at or by calling 0300 123 2040. 

With BBC’s Children in Need and RBL’s Poppy appeal just around the corner, yet alone, the many other campaigns that will be run during the pandemic, make sure that you stay alert and do not get conned by any scams or bogus collectors.  House to House and Street Collections:  If you are approached in the street, or at your door, all such collectors from a registered charity, MUST wear an official identity badge. 

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