Independent charitable crime-fighting body Crimestoppers has launched a Charity Fraud Line service to enable people to report fraud committed by people working for or involved with charities.
The announcement is made shortly before Get Safe Online's imminent joint initiative with the Charity Commission offering advice for both trustees and employees of charities concerned about fraud, and the giving public who wish to donate safely via the internet.
According to Crimestoppers, registered charities in the UK are defrauded of over £1 billion a year. The Charity Fraud Line, which will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, will help to protect public donations to various charities from being misused. It will take information volunteered by people who have knowledge or well-grounded suspicion that a member of a charity – management, staff or volunteers – may be committing fraud. In common with other services operated by Crimestoppers, all information given will remain completely anonymous.
According to research carried out by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in its Report to the Nations 2012, fraud is much more likely to be detected by information giving than by any other method with 43.3% of the initial detection of occupational frauds being first discovered following information giving. Crimestoppers is confident that this service will help reduce the amount of charity donations fraudulently used in the UK.
Crimestoppers' Rodger Holden said: “You don’t need to put up with fraud at work, especially within the charity sector where that fraud means that food and shelter as well as many other good causes are being deprived of individuals as funds donated to help them are being stolen through fraud.
"He added: “This new service for charity workers means that people who may be afraid to speak out to either a manager or to law enforcement to pass on information can contact the Charity Fraud Line anonymously and tell the trained agent exactly what they know without saying who they are. This information is passed to the right authority so that it can be investigated.”
The initiative, which is supported by the Charity Commission, complements projects already in place including the Voluntary Sector Fraud Group. Reporting serious incidents to the Charity Commission is specifically a requirement of trustees, and they should continue to do this, and to report suspected fraud to Action Fraud. The Commission also urges charity staff, volunteers and the public to report to it any evidence of risk of harm to a charity, its beneficiaries or assets.
The Charity Commission's David Walker said: "One of our priorities is promoting self-reliance among charities, and as part of this we support Crimestoppers’ Charity Fraud Line, as an additional way that the public can work with us to help fight fraud. Projects like this recognise that protecting the charity sector from crime and poor management is a shared responsibility, and we’re working with the charity to ensure those contacting the line are aware of their wider reporting responsibilities. We’re committed to taking action against fraudsters, and our previous investigations have led to prosecutions in cases including that of a trustee in 2012, who stole £131,000 from his charity.’