The scam involves the charity receiving a large donation by bogus cheque, which appears to be genuine. The donor then claims that an error has been made and asks the charity to refund half the amount given in the cheque. The idea is that the money is then returned to the donor before the charity has been able to cash the cheque in – when this is done, the cheque bounces.
It is being targeted at charities with incomes of less than £10,000, meaning more than 100,000 charities are at risk. Brian Byrnes Memorial Fund, which supports Bangladeshi orphans, managed to avoid becoming a victim of this fraud after it received such a cheque for £4,500 and then asked to return £2,500 to a different bank account.
Simon Gillespie, director of operations at the commission, described the scam as a ‘very sinister operation because it is so plausible’.
The commission advises any charity that suspects such a scam phone its hotline on 0870 333 0123.
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