Regulator warns charities about gift voucher fraud

The Charity Commission says they should beware of conmen pretending to be chief executives asking for vouchers to be bought for staff as Christmas gifts

Beware voucher scam (Photograph: Getty Images)
Beware voucher scam (Photograph: Getty Images)

Charities are being urged to be vigilant this Christmas for a new type of fraud involving gift vouchers.

The Charity Commission has issued an alert about conmen pretending to be chief executives or other senior people within voluntary organisations and requesting that vouchers be bought for staff as Christmas gifts.

Once the vouchers have been purchased, the fraudsters request copies of the cards and their codes, allowing them to spend up to the value of the cards.

The commission alerted the voluntary sector in March to criminals impersonating chief executives, usually from spoof email addresses, then requesting the transfer of funds.

On Friday, it raised the alarm about a variation on this relating specifically to gift vouchers after reports of the scam by Action Fraud, which is a service run by the City of London Police in conjunction the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to prevent cyber crime.

A commission spokeswoman said: "To date, we have received no reports from charities relating to chief executive gift card fraud.

"We are currently liaising with Action Fraud to obtain further details about the cases it is aware of, and encourage charities that have been affected to submit these to be formally assessed against our risk assessment framework."

In a statement, the commission urged charities to have "robust processes in place to verify and corroborate all requests requiring a payment or transaction".

It also recommends that charities check requests for vouchers directly, using contact details they know to be correct for whoever requests them.

"All employees should be aware of these procedures and encouraged to challenge requests they think may be suspicious," the statement said.

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