Charities at increased risk of fraud and cybercrime during Covid-19 pandemic 

17 Apr 2020 News

Fraudsters are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to target charities, the Charity Commission has said in an alert to the sector.

The regulator has said that police have reported an increase in coronavirus-related scams.

“All charities, but especially those providing services and supporting local communities during the coronavirus crisis, could be targeted by fraudsters,” a statement from the Commission reads.

The Commission has warned of several different types of fraud.

Procurement fraud is one example. Scams might involve the sale of vital personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks and gloves, online. Once the payment has been made, no products are delivered or the products do not meet required standards.

The Commission's advice says: “Carry out due diligence if you’re making a purchase on behalf of your charity from a company or person you do not know. Discuss with fellow trustees, colleagues or volunteers if you’re unsure.”

Other types of fraud to look out for include emails purporting to be from the chief executive with instructions to change account details or pay someone new, phishing emails and unsolicited offers of financial support. 

‘Anyone seeking to exploit this by conning charities should be deeply ashamed’

Kate Waring, head of risk at the Commission, said: “Every day of this pandemic, we are seeing tremendous acts of kindness from both charities and the public. Anyone seeking to exploit this by conning charities should be deeply ashamed of their actions.

“The first step in fighting fraud is awareness. We particularly want to equip those smaller charities which are at the forefront of the nation’s response; these organisations may not necessarily have the resources to spot fraud attacks, and could be catastrophically impacted if they fall victim.

“I hope that today’s alert will help leaders who are working hard in the face of unprecedented challenges to take a moment to stop, think and consider our advice before committing to anything that might put their charity at risk.”

New for 2020, the Charity Fraud Conference takes place on 7 October 2020. This full-day conference will look at all aspects of fraud, and include sessions with practical advice on how charities can better protect themselves against loss, and introduce procedures that will help safeguard against fraud. Find out more here.


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