Regulators urge vigilance when donating after more than £2.7m stolen from charities last year


Charity regulators have warned people to do their research when giving to charity after more than £2.7m worth of donations was stolen by fraudsters over the past year.

The Charity Commission, the Fundraising Regulator and Action Fraud have launched their annual campaign reminding people how to give safely to charities.

Data from Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, shows that more than £2.7m worth of funding was diverted from charitable causes in the year to the end of October. 

This is consistent with the previous year which also saw £2.7m worth of charitable donations stolen by fraudsters.

Action Fraud also revealed that it had received 501 charity fraud crime reports over the past year, a drop of 16 from the previous 12 months.

The regulators warn that fraudsters use a variety of scams to trick potential donors including “fake appeal websites, email appeals that falsely use the name of genuine charities, or appeals from fake charities”.

Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “The festive period is always marked by increased charitable giving by the British public, who are always exceedingly generous when donating to charities.

“While fraudsters continue to be creative, a few simple checks will increase the chances your donation will go to a legitimate cause.

“Charities perform essential work in the UK and globally all year round, against a difficult economic backdrop, so we want to make sure that members of the public are taking appropriate measures to ensure their hard-earned money reaches the causes they care about.”

The regulators advised people thinking of donating to make sure charities were on the commission’s online register and had the Fundraising Regulator’s badge to signify they had “committed to fundraise in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice”.

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

“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.”

The regulators said they hoped to “empower” people to give with confidence over the festive period.

The warning comes during Charity Fraud Awareness Week, which runs until Friday.

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