Fraudster jailed after stealing more than £450,000 from three charities

Craig McCulloch was given a three-year prison sentence after admitting to the crimes

Craig McCulloch (Photograph: City of London Police)
Craig McCulloch (Photograph: City of London Police)

A man who defrauded three charities out of more than £450,000 has been jailed. 

Craig McCulloch, 34, of Littleborough, Lancashire, was last week given a three-year prison sentence at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud by abuse of position over a six-and-a-half year period. 

McCulloch admitted stealing £287,000 from the London-based youth charity XLP, where he worked as a finance officer, more than £130,000 from a London church, where he volunteered as treasurer, and almost £38,000 from the Oasis College of Higher Education in Kennington, south London, where he worked before joining XLP. 

Police said that while working in the finance teams at XLP and the Oasis College, McCulloch made payments using names that were similar to those of genuine suppliers, and amended company records to avoid raising suspicions. 

McCulloch squandered the majority of the money he stole on “fast-food takeaways, making purchases on eBay and spending it on rental cars”, police said.

This was despite the fact his accounts were continually overdrawn.

Detective Constable Mark Baker, from the fraud team at City of London Police, said McCulloch was “one of the most devious individuals I have ever dealt with”. 

Baker said: “He stole charity and church donations and used them for his own personal gain. He presented an image of someone caring, involved in his local community, leading a Christian lifestyle, and being generous with his money.

“His actions have left many people feeling shocked and deceived. The fraud he has committed has impacted the charities concerned in different ways, with some struggling to fund important services they would normally provide.”

Baker said police would pursue confiscation orders in the hope that some of the stolen funds could be recovered. 

Luke Watson, chief executive of XLP, said McCulloch was dismissed from the charity in 2018. 

"While we were shocked by this incident, we took action so that no projects lost any funding as a result, and not one of the projects with young people was impacted," said Watson.

"Following the incident, we implemented additional internal security processes to ensure it cannot happen again.

"XLP has been supporting young people and their communities for nearly 25 years, and we remain committed to continuing our mission to work with some of the most disadvantaged young people in London."

McCulloch had also been volunteer treasurer of St James Church in New Barnet, north London, where he stole funds totalling more than £130,000 between September 2013 and December 2018.  

Rev Laura Hewitt, vicar of St James Church, said the community was feeling a “sense of shock and betrayal of trust” as a result of McCulloch’s crimes.

She said the charity was unlikely to be able to claw back the funds that had been stolen, but it had strengthened its internal controls and reported the matter as a serious incident to the Charity Commission. 

“We identify with the other charities who have been damaged by Craig McCulloch's actions,” she said. 

She said McCulloch, his wife and child were in the church’s prayers as they come to terms with what had happened.

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