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Charities Urged to Boost Security After £8.6m Lost to Fraud

Michael Behr

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Charities fraud
Despite the growing threat from cybercrime and fraud, a study found most charities have not increased their security budgets.

The UK Charity Commission has said charities need to boost security after £8.6 million was lost during the last financial year to fraud and cybercrime.

According to new data from Action Fraud, charities reported 1,059 separate incidents of fraud between April 2020 and March 2021. However, the true scale of fraud against charities is believed to be much higher, as fraud is known to be underreported.

Additionally, in a survey with 70 respondents, around 65% of organisations feel the pandemic has increased the risk of fraud. Furthermore, 53% of charities believed that the pandemic has made it more difficult to manage the risk of fraud within their charity.

In addition, 90% of respondents said that the risk of fraud to their charity over the next 12 months is expected to remain at the same level or increase.

Despite this, 60% of charities said that their financial investment in fraud prevention has stayed the same during the pandemic. A further 14% said they do not financially invest in fraud prevention at all.

Charities expressed concerns that risk may have been increased due to more remote working and virtual sign-off processes.

Chief Executive of the Charity Commission Helen Stephenson CBE said: “Charity is special – it delivers good to so many people’s lives and helps strengthen our society.

“When the public donate generously to charities it is because they want to make a real and positive difference to a cause they often care deeply about, and they want to know their money will reach the ‘front line’.

“Sadly, as these figures we have released today show, there remain criminal individuals who would take advantage of organisations that seek to do good and of those that generously donate.

“That is why I am calling on all charities to take the risk of fraud seriously by signing up to our new Stop Fraud Pledge and taking six simple steps to protect their charity. Combating fraud gives the public confidence that their money is safe, protects vital funds for charities and more widely helps maintains trust in the charities we all care so passionately about.”


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Coinciding with Charity Fraud Awareness Week, the Charity Commission aims to highlight ways the sector can protect itself from crime.

Together with the Fraud Advisory Panel, the regulator has urged all trustees to sign up to a new Stop Fraud Pledge, which commits charities to taking six practical actions to reduce the chances of failing victim to fraud.

The pledge includes measures such as appointing a suitable person to champion counter-fraud work throughout the organisation, performing stringent checks and due diligence, and assessing each year how well fraud controls are working, what new risks there may be and what improvements are needed.

Chair of the Fraud Advisory Panel David Clarke 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.”


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Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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