COVID-19: Charity fraud and cybercrime

30th April 2020

The spread of Coronavirus is being exploited by criminals to carry out fraud and cybercrime. Latest data from police shows there has been an increase in Coronavirus related scams.

 

Any charity is at risk, but especially those providing services to the local community during this crisis. Common frauds and cybercrimes to be aware of include:

 

Procurement fraud

In the current climate this might include the sale of PPE. Some suppliers are fraudulent and once charities make payment, no products are delivered or the quality is not as required. Due diligence should be taken out on new suppliers, if you are unsure you should discuss with the trustees or management of the charity.

 

Mandate frauds

This is when a supplier asks you to change their payment details. There is a particular risk of this in the current climate where your usual internal control procedures may be different due to working from home. You should check the authenticity of the request, for example get in touch with the supplier via another method (email address you already hold, phone number from their website). Ensure you follow your usual internal controls as much as possible.

 

Scam emails

There has been an increase in scam emails particularly around COVID-19. As usual you should not click links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious emails. Never send your personal or charity financial details. Some fraudsters have been exploiting COVID-19 by offering to provide lists of vulnerable people that need help from a charity, asking for payment and then not supplying a list.

 

Of course there are many other scams and schemes to defraud all of us, not just charities. If in doubt, speak to a colleague or management about anything suspicious before acting on it.

 

If you are a charity and want further information, the Charity Commission website offers further advice and guidance on this, including the requirement to report serious incidents to the Commission.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-increased-risk-of-fraud-and-cybercrime-against-charities

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