Funding news

Cheque scam targets charities - Thursday 17 August 2006

Charities should beware of a new scam involving ‘payback’ requests on unsolicited donations by cheque which could leave victims thousands of pounds out-of-pocket, the Charity Commission has warned.

The Commission said that bogus donation cheques had been sent to various charities across the UK, with a note requesting half the money be returned to the fraudsters. Charities who fall for the scam will find that the original cheque, which is sometimes as high as £6,000, bounces.

Lancashire based charity Deafway was targeted in such a way by a fraudulent company calling itself Immaculate Miners Inc, but didn’t fall for the scam. The charity’s deputy chief executive, John Williams, said: "An unsolicited donation with a ‘payback’ request rang alarm bells for us. We contacted the police, the Charity Commission and our local Trading Standards office and were told that, had we fallen for the scam, we could have been left seriously out-of-pocket.”

The Commission’s head of charity services David Locke warned that if a donation sounded too good to be true it probably was, but the fraudulent companies perpetrating the scam worked hard to appear as plausible as possible. “Charities should treat requests to return part of a donation with great caution and never release funds before the donation cheque has cleared,” he added.