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Charity sector fraud guide

A first national conference on charity fraud on October 30, 2015 was an opportunity for trustees, senior managers and their advisers to share experiences, insights and best practice in fighting fraud in the charitable sector. A four-part series of articles has featured in the print issue of Professional Security magazine from December 2015 to March 2016.

A 20-page document from one of the day’s organisers, the Fraud Advisory Panel, is a summary of the top tips from the event, including some brief case studies.

Like the event, the guide goes over whether people are a charity’s greatest asset – or the weakest link; the sorts of frauds that can hit a charity, whether from donors, volunteers or members of staff, or people claiming to raise money on behalf of a charity. The document talks in terms of good governance and risk management: “Prevention is better than cure – and much more cost-effective! … Some fraud is inevitable so be clear about how much fraud you are prepared to tolerate.” The guide points out that the regulator the Charity Commission, one of the organisers of the conference, expects trustees to report fraud to the official police unit Action Fraud.

The document says: “Common fraud risks faced by charities include online fraud, bribery and corruption, and financial fraud. Every charity with some form of online presence – be it a Facebook page, Twitter account or a website – is now at risk of cyber-attack. Bribery and corruption can be a particular threat for charities with extensive international operations.”

The document speaks in terms of ethics, and workplace culture, where ‘fraud is never acceptable and everyone knows it’; speaking frankly and regularly about the risks; besides the practicalities of how to investigate an allegation or suspicion of fraud, or in particular bribery and corruption; and whether to take a criminal or civil court route in a case to recover losses. “Fighting fraud is a job for everyone at every level. Make the in-house case for an ethics programme by focusing on positive behaviours – doing the right thing, setting the right tone, leading by example, supporting staff, building a good reputation – and emphasising the wider benefits.”

The Fraud Advisory Panel, itself a charity, is running a webinar on bribery and corruption on February 24. Arun Chauhan, a solicitor specialising in fraud, and David Clarke, who has more than 20 years’ experience as a police investigator dealing with fraud, will explain how the law operates in practice with pertinent case studies.: visit

The Panel also offers various other free online guides; most recently on due diligence on UK-based third parties; visit And; use of data mining and analytics, to guard against fraud.


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