At least £1.6m lost to online charity fraud last year

Online charity fraud increased by 16 per cent to £1.6m over the past year, according to data provided by Action Fraud.

The UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime revealed how the public lost money by donating to non-existent charities and through the fraudulent collection of funds from genuine organisations. 

It received 702 reports of online charity fraud from the general public, with consumers reporting losing at least £1.6m between October 2020 and October 2021.

As a result, the Fundraising Regulator, the Charity Commission for England and Wales, National Trading Standards and Action Fraud have joined forces to call on the public to give safely when donating online this Christmas.

Figures from Action Fraud and published by the Charity Commission last month showed that charities lost almost £8.6m to all types of fraud in the past financial year

The figures related to 1,059 separate incidents of fraud reported by charities between April 2020 and March 2021.

The Fundraising Regulator is encouraging the public to take steps to protect themselves online, particularly during the festive period, when appeals for charitable donations increase.

These steps include checking the charity name and its registration number on the Charity Commission website and using the Fundraising Regulator’s online directory.

Individuals are also encouraged to ask for more information about the cause and look out for the fundraising badge.

Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, said: “The British public is always exceedingly generous when giving to charity, and we want to make sure that they can continue to do so, safe in the knowledge that their donation is going to its intended cause.

“Just a few simple steps – including looking out for the fundraising badge, which means a charity has committed to best practice – will help the general public to make informed decisions when donating to good causes, and we are pleased to be working closely with other regulators to deliver this important message.”

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