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Charity fraudster jailed for three years nine months

Harris Polak of Liverpool pleaded guilty to taking at least £213,000 of donations intended for charities including Cancer Relief UK

Harris Polak
Harris Polak

A fraudster who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity but kept most of the money himself has been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

Harris Polak, 54, of Childwall Park Avenue, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position after an investigation by the economic crime team at Merseyside Police. He was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court.

Last month, Polak pleaded guilty to taking at least £213,000 in donations meant for charities.

Polak had raised money for organisations including Cancer Relief UK, a small charity that makes grants to cancer sufferers, but he kept almost all of the money himself.

Polak organised supermarket collections between 2007 and 2011 for Cancer Relief UK, Cerebral Palsy Care for Children and Clatterbridge Cancer Research, which has since become part of North West Cancer Research.

Polak organised teams of collectors for Cancer Relief UK outside supermarkets around the M62 corridor, which connects Liverpool and Leeds. The charity and the collectors were not aware of the deception.

Michelle Russell, head of investigations and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said her organisation had provided a witness statement and information about charities to help with the investigation.

"Today’s sentence demonstrates that criminals who steal from charities will be brought to justice," she said. "Any form of fraud is criminal, but it is a low blow to steal from charities by tricking members of the public into thinking they are giving to worthy causes such as care for children and people with cancer."

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