The Charity Commission has reported a number of incidents to Action Fraud after becoming aware that individuals abroad were being sent paperwork purporting to be from one of its senior directors.
Fake charitable trusts have been contacting people in the US and South Korea with some paperwork claiming to be from the Charity Commission’s director of policy and communications, Sarah Atkinson.
Atkinson received emails from people trying to verify paperwork for substantial donations supposedly signed by her. She has advised victims of the fraud that these documents and endorsements are not legitimate and the Commission has reported the scam to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime police.
Victims in US and South Korea
The fake communications were received in the US and in South Korea, and told recipients they were beneficiaries of £4.8m from a trust fund.
The details were shared by the Commission with law enforcement and partner agencies to raise awareness of the scam, according to a spokesperson.
The fraudulent communications “request the fund be free from any form of taxation” and the “transfer of fund would be done in accordance with the international financial regulations,” said the Commission.
Tell-tale inaccuracies in scam emails
According to the Commission's spokesperson there were a number of inaccuracies in the documents, such as referring to the Commission as the “United Kingdom Charity Commission”.
The documents also included an old logo for the Commission, an old address and a fake signature, which was obscured by a faked stamp, and the seal was indistinct.
The Grace Jeffers Trust Fund and Joyce Clark Trust Fund were named in different communications that went out to the victims and the regulator confirmed that neither are registered with the Commission.
Scammers offer £2.8m
Victims of the fraud included a Christian charitable mission in the US, contacted by someone claiming to be a UK-based trust offering a £2.8m donation, according to The Telegraph.
Atkinson told The Telegraph: "These people are trying to play on people's charitable goodwill.
“It's quite heartbreaking and it worries us deeply that people will take these things in good faith and lose their money.
"The motivation to trust in people to get charitable work off the ground is very high with the people being targeted."
She added: “For me personally, my name being used to defraud people is really upsetting.
“My job is to protect charities, not to enable them to be defrauded.”