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Charities lost £8m to fraudsters last year, data shows

19 Oct 2021 News

Charities lost more than £8m to fraud last year, according to data released by Action Fraud.

The figures were published by the Charity Commission to mark the start of Charity Fraud Awareness Week.

The Commission said that collective action to prevent fraud will protect donations and increase public trust in charities.

One in seven charities do not invest in fraud prevention

Fraudsters stole nearly £8.6m from charities in the last financial year, according to the data.

Action Fraud said that 1,059 separate incidents of fraud were reported by charities last year, but warned that this is likely to under-estimate the true scale of the problem.

A separate survey of 70 charities found that nearly two-thirds worried that the Covid-19 crisis had increased the risk of fraud, while around one in seven said they do not invest any money in fraud prevention.

Mia Campbell, the head of the Fraud Advisory Panel, told an event earlier this month that some fraudsters see charities as “a bit of a soft touch”.

The Fraud Advisory Panel and the Commission have called on trustees to sign up to a new Stop Fraud Pledge, which commits to taking practical steps to combat fraud. These include appointing a named individual to oversee counter-fraud work across the charity and making regular checks to update policies.

‘There is still more to be done’

David Clarke, the chair of the Fraud Advisory Panel, said: “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.

“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.” 

Helen Stephenson, the chief executive of the Charity Commission, said that the data showed “there remain criminal individuals who would take advantage of organisations that seek to do good and of those that generously donate”.

Charity Fraud Awareness Week runs from 18 to 22 October.

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