Charity fraud is an offence that is taken seriously by courts. Just as with any organisation, charities are susceptible to fraud – both internal (by volunteers, employees or trustees) and external (for example fake charities collecting donations from the public).

Have you been ARRESTED OR charged WITH Charity Fraud?

If you’re being investigated for charity fraud, this will be a disturbing time for you. It’s important to know that hiring a legal professional as soon as possible is vital to attaining a positive outcome and securing your ultimate chances of winning your case.

Whether you’re worried about false accusations, respect financial stability or your family; legal guidance can make all the difference between loss and success.

In some cases, a good solicitor may even be able to prevent you from needing to attend a court case and get your case dismissed at the very beginning. They may be able to free you from needing to be at the centre of a charity commission investigation.

Charity fraud cases can be very upsetting and stressful. As soon as you hear that you or a loved one are accused of defrauding a charity, it’s essential that you seek good legal advice immediately.

It could be a worrying time for you if you’re the person accused. If you have been involved in defrauding a charity, you may wonder if what you’ve done is going to put you in jail for a few years or whether you will have to pay back the stolen funds.

If you haven’t defrauded the charity, but there has been a misunderstanding, then you will also be worried in case the outcome of the case does not go in your favour.

Has Charity Fraud impacted your organisation?

Most charity fraud comes from poor or non-implementation of financial control, low awareness of fraud, lack of accountability or excessive application of trust. Although taking some simple steps can give a charity more fraud resilience, it’s quite often something that is only done in hindsight.

For example, preventing charity fraud could be something as simple as implementing a monthly reconciliation of transactions that can be carried out by a member of the management team.

Trustees have a huge amount of responsibilities to handle and are vulnerable to prosecution. Trustees must not receive financial benefits from the charity without authority, or this is a criminal offence.

What types of actions are classified as Charity Fraud?

There are several ways that charity fraud is incurred. For instance, these are examples from real cases:

Misappropriation of funds – tight records need to be maintained and monitored to avoid situations such as:

  • The setting up of false payees for wages or bills
  • Accessing bank accounts for transfers to be arranged and executed
  • Other financial management irregularities

Abuse of position – for example, an insufficient level of supervision or incorrect journal entries to cover up tracks. Failure to disclose information, conspiracy to defraud or money laundering can all be charges put against trustees of charities.

Weaknesses in financial procedures and due diligence – having weak internal financial controls can leave charities susceptible to insider fraud

If you’re a trustee of a charity and you do not report charity fraud to the police and in addition to obtain a crime number, you could be at risk of committing a criminal offence. As a trustee, you are obliged to do all you can to safeguard the assets and property of a charity. It’s essential that strong policies and procedures and installed and followed.

What is the impact of Charity Fraud?

The courts take charity fraud seriously. There can be very large amounts of money involved in these types of cases which could have been put to good use. Charities provide a buffer to the finances of the government. The financial help that comes from charities can negate the need for governments to handle all the needs of people, animals and the environment. Therefore, courts take this offence seriously. It can affect more than just the charity and the causes directly involved.

Charity fraud impacts this sector by costing as much as £150 million to £2 billion each year with the impact directly affecting the work that could be done by the charity. Poverty, arts, culture, science and animals can all be affected by charity fraud.

Charity law demands that compliance with the Charities Act 2011. Those that don’t will be at the centre of a charity commission investigation who are increasing the number of prosecutions taking place each year.  In brief, the accused will be investigated by the police and be at the centre of a charity commission investigation.

What happens in a Charity Fraud case?

When there are financial inconsistencies discovered, and charity fraud is suspected, a report is made to the police. After that, a police investigation is initiated, and the charity commission are informed about the misdemeanour.  There is likely to also be a charity commission investigation.

The charity commission ask financial experts to investigate. They inspect accounts, expenditure, operations and conduct of the charity to search for irregularities.

What is more, the charity commission want to interview everybody at the charity and collect any evidence required to prosecute the trustee or others. In a similar way, they search for evidence of malpractice on digital devices, computers and telephone records.

As noted above, if charity fraud is discovered and confirmed by the police, an arrest and charge will take place. A police interview of the accused occurs. If there is enough evidence to charge the accused, a charge is made, and they are then required to attend a court case.

The police interview will be recorded and possibly used in court as evidence against the accused.

Depending what’s happened, the case can be complicated and lengthy. It’s important that you take advice from those who have the experience and knowledge necessary to be able to support you legally. In some cases, gaining this support will give you peace of mind, knowing that you have well-trained lawyers who are going to back you up and give you the support you need.

What most people find difficult at this stage, is that the police can investigate every part of your life, whether personal or not. They can gain access to your personal affairs, including financial.

What happens if you’ve been falsely accused of charity fraud?

If you or somebody you know is charged in connection with charity fraud, there’s no doubt that this will be a very confusing and stressful time for you. You’re likely to be very worried about what the outcome might be. All manner of questions will be in your mind such as whether you or the accused will be sent to jail even if innocent.

There may be some confusion or miscommunication that has led to this outcome. There could be an error or perhaps not enough information has been revealed.

Why it’s important to instruct a legal professional

Although it’s not compulsory for you to take legal representation, we recommend that you do so. The law can be complex, and without knowing all the details, it can be hard to understand what your options are.

When you take legal representation, ensure that you take somebody who has already had experience in the charity fraud field. You’ll need a professional who keeps current with all changes to regulations, rules and laws. Ideally, they will be a specialist in the area of charity fraud and white-collar crimes.

You need to be supported throughout the process and guided so that you get the best possible outcome. Charity fraud is a formal criminal investigation, and you or your loved one will need to go through a police interview.

We recommend that you or your loved one do not attend a police interview without securing the help of a legal professional to support you. When you are taken to the police station, you are given the option to request that a solicitor visits you. They should also be able to attend the police interview with you.

By hiring an experienced fraud solicitor, you give yourself or your loved one an advantage. They will be able to find out more about why you have been accused. This information will give you some insight into what the charges are that are being called against you. Working with your solicitor, a strong defence can be prepared to protect you against prosecution.

It’s likely that the interview will be stressful. You will be put under pressure and asked many questions about charity fraud and your involvement. You’ll be expected to remember dates, people and financial figures. You could find the interview very upsetting and high pressure.

If you’ve got an experienced and skilful fraud solicitor with you, you will have somebody on your side to help to protect you against prosecution.

Can the police search my home in charity fraud?

A primary mission of the police will be to secure evidence. The first step taken by the police could be to seek to secure a search warrant or court order from a judge or magistrate. They will then be authorised to search at any location or vehicle. Anything they find that can be used as evidence can be seized for use in court.

What type of sentence can you get from charity fraud?

Depending on the circumstances and what your involvement is, you may be sentenced to imprisonment from anywhere between three months and ten years. You may have to pay back what you stole, even if you’re in prison.

The maximum prison sentence for charity fraud is ten years.

What are mitigating factors considered in sentencing?

When sentencing for charity fraud, your case is looked at for whether you have taken part in a group activity or whether you have been forced into taking part in the fraud. If you’ve given misleading information on purpose or used a false identity, this will impact your sentence.

Does a conviction for Charity Fraud go on your criminal record?

If your charity fraud case progresses to court and you are convicted of defrauding a charity, your conviction will be noted on your CRB / police record. The length of the endorsement will depend on the nature and length of your sentence.

Your next steps

Charity fraud is a serious offence, but if you take the right step, you can give yourself some protection. The most important thing for you to do is to take legal help.

By taking legal representation, you may even be able to avoid going to court in the first place. If you do still need to attend court, a fraud solicitor with relevant expertise could help you with getting a smaller sentence and possibly smaller repayment terms.

How Can Stuart Miller Solicitors Help?

At Stuart Miller Solicitors, we handle charity fraud regularly and have specialist legal knowledge and expertise in this field. We help clients by giving them guidance on the best course of action to take to mitigate the outcome.

Whether you’ve been wrongly or rightly accused, we can provide you with all the support you need to make the court case easier to handle. No matter what you’ve been accused of, get in touch with us today so that we can get started on developing a strong defence for you.

We also know the charity commission regulations inside out and will look at your case to find how we can defend you. On some occasions, people are accused of charity fraud when they have ‘forgotten’ to disclose information to the HMRC or others.

As soon as you receive any communication that you are going to need to be interviewed by the police or the charity commission, it’s important you take proper legal representation. By doing this, you can put yourself into a better position for a better result.

In some cases, a client may approach us for help after they’ve been interviewed. In these circumstances, we may still be able to help, so contact us today.

What will happen when I instruct a fraud lawyer?

Once you contact us and instruct us to legally represent you in your charity fraud case, we can then ask the police for more background information about why you are being accused. We can investigate how we can give you a defence.

You will feel more at ease once you know that we are handling the case for you.  Our specialist team is very up to date on charity fraud law, rules and regulations.

Would you like to discuss your case before instructing us?

If you’d like to have a no obligation chat with us before instructing us to handle your case, then call us today.

In addition to giving you a free consultation, we can also represent you at the police station if you’ve been arrested. We can even investigate securing your legal aid.

Please contact us for a face to face meeting or a telephone call. There is a WhatsApp link on this page if that is your preference.

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