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Gift Aid fraudster who claimed over £270,000 jailed for three years

Gift Aid fraudster who claimed over £270,000 jailed for three years

A charity treasurer who tried to steal more than £330,000 in a Gift Aid repayment fraud has been jailed for three years.

Dale Hicks, 35, of Cheadle, Stoke-on-Trent lodged a string of false claims while volunteering at a Staffordshire based ex-offenders charity, an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.

The claims were made on behalf of the Life Keys (LK) charity, which was set up inside a Midland prison in 2009 to rehabilitate ex-offenders.

Hicks made the claims between 2014 and 2016, and diverted the money into his own bank account, spending some of the proceeds on luxury holidays.

The charity only became suspicious when it noticed large sums arriving into the accounts and being moved on. Hicks lied about the payments but was asked to step down from his voluntary role in March 2016.

Hicks claimed more than £270,000 but the remaining £62,000 was withheld whilst investigations were carried out. Hicks spent at least £76,000 on cruises and other holidays.

He posted about many of the trips on social media and uploaded a video diary of his travels, which included virtual video tours of Presidential Suites, access to exclusive lounges and meals at the Captain’s table.

He spent £24,854 on one cruise alone after booking himself and seven other people into the Presidential Suite on a ten-day tour in October 2016. Earlier in the same year he also spent nearly £6,000 on a tour of China and nearly £1,500 on an exclusive lodge at Center Parcs.

Nick Stone, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“This was not a momentary lapse. This was persistent, it was calculated and it was despicable. He betrayed the trust of colleagues at a genuine charity that was trying to help criminals turn their lives around.

“Dale Hicks spent this stolen money on himself and booked a string of luxury holidays that most hardworking people could only dream of. The taxpayer paid for these extravagant holidays, and he posted about them on social media.”

Hicks also made false claims in the name of the charity’s Chief Executive, which were 30 times higher than the donations that had actually been made.

When the banking access was removed, he made two attempts to change the charity’s nominated bank account into an account under his control.

Hicks was jailed for three years on 31 May at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud by false representation and two charges of producing false documents at the same court hearing.

The news follows last week’s airing of series two of Britain’s Secret Charity Cheats on BBC1, which focused on cases of .

 

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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