Aid agency worker steals cash to fund Nigerian web scam

A UK aid agency lost £36,000 after one of its employees stole money to fund the entry 'criteria' of an infamous Nigerian sting operation.

Village Aid was subject to a Charity Commission inquiry after a worker in Ghana misappropriated £36,000 from the charity's funds. Investigators believe he was taken in by the so-called '419 scam' following an approach by bogus representatives of the African Development Bank.

The employee was offered access to an unclaimed £15m, but had to provide £36,000 up-front. The employee withdrew some money in cash and transferred the rest from the charity into an off-shore account. He then vanished.

The incident was reported to the charities regulator by the trustees of Village Aid in November 2002. The trustees are now seeking restitution of funds from the bank, which made an unauthorised change in the mandate on the charity's account allowing the employee to embezzle the money.

Should Interpol catch him, the trustees will pursue the matter vigorously.

A commission spokeswoman said: "Charities can still be caught out, even with rigorous controls in place. They must try to make their systems more watertight."

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