Woman jailed for her part in £2m fraud against religious charity

Amanda Arckless was involved with a former employee of the charity, who was convicted of fraud in 2017

A woman who claimed to be a marketing consultant to disguise her involvement in defrauding more than £2m from a religious charity has been jailed for three years.

Amanda Arckless, of Eachwick, Newcastle Upon Tyne, was found guilty of fraud by false representation at St Albans Crown Court.

The 54-year-old became involved with Stephen Ashton, an employee of the religious charity Morris Curello World Evangelism, in 2013.

But Ashton was convicted for defrauding the charity of more than £2m in 2017.

The court heard how Arckless took advantage of Ashton over a period of four years as she believed him to be a very wealthy man.

Arckless received more than £800,000 from Ashton, in the form of electronic transfers direct to her bank account and other “gifts”, between December 2013 and August 2017.

She claimed to be his employee as a marketing consultant to disguise her financial gain.

Following Ashton’s arrest in 2017, Arckless moved the criminal proceeds from one account to another, even using a safety deposit box to hide the money from the police.

During the trial, Arckless was also found guilty of mortgage fraud, for providing a fraudulent job contract and payslips as part of a mortgage application in May 2016 to the value of £667,680.

Kim Parker, an investigator in Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said: “Arckless believed Ashton was extremely wealthy and had little interest in where the money had come from.

“After his arrest she made no attempt to contact the police or raise concerns over the hundreds of thousands of pounds she had accrued.

“In fact, she went to great lengths to deliberately hide the stolen money.

“After months of meticulous investigation, we were able to gather enough evidence to build a case against Arckless and prove she had benefited from Ashton’s illegal activity.

“Together with the assistance of the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, we are now attempting to recover whatever funds remain in her possession through the Proceeds of Crime Act, by seizing assets belonging to the offender.

“The sentence handed out reflects the scale of the fraud and the impact her actions had on the victim.”

The charity has not responded to a request for comment.

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