Charity Commission director's name used in attempted identity theft scam

Director of policy and communications Sarah Atkinson's name and a fake signature were attached to a letter purporting to offer several charities part of a £4.8m trust fund

Sarah Atkinson: name used in attempted scam of which she had no knowledge
Sarah Atkinson: name used in attempted scam of which she had no knowledge

The Charity Commission has issued a warning after the name of one of its senior directors was used without her knowledge in an identity theft scam targeting charities.

The commission said Sarah Atkinson, its director of policy and communications, had received several emails from charities asking her to verify communications that suggested large donations would be made to the charities in question.

The letters said the recipients would be beneficiaries of a £4.8m trust fund, and included a fake signature from Atkinson and the commission’s former logo and address.

The fake communications included phrases that said it requested "the fund be free from any form of taxation" and the "transfer of funds would be done in accordance with the international financial regulations".

It is not immediately clear how any fraud would have progressed, but it is likely the scammers were after bank details or payment to process the fake donations.

Different trust funds, the Grace Jeffers Trust Fund and the Joyce Clark Trust Fund, were named in each of the notifications, neither of which are charities registered with the commission.

The signature on the document was obscured by a fake stamp, the commission said, and the seal was also indistinct.

The recipients of the letters were mostly individuals, a spokeswoman for the commission said, and the regulator had reported the issue to Action Fraud.

The commission said charities known to have been targeted were in the US and South Korea.

Atkinson said: "These people are trying to play on people's charitable goodwill. It's quite heartbreaking and it worries us deeply that people will take these things in good faith and lose their money.

"For me, that my name being used to defraud people is really upsetting. My job is to protect charities, not to enable them to be defrauded."

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