Two men who invented fake charities and donations to fraudulently reclaim more than £500,000 in Gift Aid repayments have been jailed for 30 months each.
The pair from Essex, Abdulshakour Juma, 43, and Ashraf Salim Ali, 42, claimed they were trustees of the East Coast of African Community and the Bongo Community Association charities, and submitted claims for Gift Aid repayments based on donations that had been made to these charities.
The fraudulent activity took place over a 15-month period, with Gift Aid claims totalling £534,640.95: £148,015.05 of which was paid out to the charities, the rest was withheld by the pair.
The pair submitted more than £500,000 worth of repayment claims, quickly withdrawing the money in cash in an attempt to avoid detection. However, HMRC became suspicious and after £140,000 had been paid out, it stopped their repayments and launched an investigation.
Working with the Charity Commission and Essex Police, HMRC officers arrested Juma and Ali at their home addresses in June 2013 on suspicion of making fraudulent Gift Aid repayment claims and money laundering. Following his arrest, Juma also admitted making fraudulent Working Tax Credit claims of £1,012 by falsely claiming he was employed by one of the charities.
Both men were charged on 16 December 2014 at Basildon Magistrates Court with fraud and money laundering offences. Juma was also charged with making fraudulent claims for Working Tax Credits. Both Juma and Ali pleaded guilty at Basildon Crown Court on 9 November 2015 and have since both been jailed for 30 months.
Mike O’Grady, assistant director Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“The fact that this pair would stoop so low as to use a charity as a front to extort money from the taxpayer is shameful. Gift Aid is in place to support legitimate charities and offer extra funding, not as an extra income for greedy criminals to abuse the system.”
Get free email updates
Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]