Fake charities net £2.6m in National Lottery cash

Fraudsters responsible for fictitious charity initiatives have managed to get their hands on at least £2.6m of National Lottery money through the Awards for All grants programme.

Tessa Jowell, culture, media and sport secretary, issued a statement to Parliament saying the total sum involved was £2,607,000. She also hinted that the figure could rise as the investigation into the fraud continues.

So far, 19 men and one woman have been arrested in connection with the investigation. It is understood that the culprits targeted not only lottery bodies but also unsuspecting charities with multiple applications for money.

The scam was uncovered by a whistleblower at the Big Lottery Fund in September last year. Jowell said all other suspect grants were suspended as soon as the irregularities came to light.

She added that more than £1m went to community projects, £500,000 to sports programmes and £300,000 to Arts Council schemes.

The Awards for All scheme allocates grants, ranging from £500 to £5,000, to deserving local causes.

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