Eight held in charity fraud probe
Eight arrests have been made as part of an investigation into charity fraud involving thousands of pounds intended to help people in Syria.
Kent Police arrested the men at addresses across the UK during an early morning operation today after £31,816, 8,310 euro (£6,857) and 10,700 US dollars (£6,413) were seized at the Port of Dover on December 23 2012.
The money, which had come from four UK-based charities, was taken by police who believed it could be used for criminal or terrorist activities.
Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Hogben said: "Our investigation aims to ensure the funds given by the public reach their intended destination and are not used in connection with criminal activity.
"We will continue to ensure any large quantities of cash being transported through Kent's ports is checked against its purpose.
"It is now common practice for charities to transfer aid donations electronically, for auditing purposes, transparency, and to mitigate against theft of cash.
"We are working with our partners around the country to ensure money intended to help those in need in Syria is not used for criminal activity or in the terrorist arena.
"It is imperative that the public has confidence in the charities they support and in the money they are donating being used for the purpose it is intended."
Two men aged 30 and 39 from Derby, a 36-year-old man from Harlow, Essex, two men aged 29 and 37 from east London, a 31-year-old man from south east London, a 35-year-old man from Dewsbury, and a 43-year-old from Huddersfield, both in West Yorkshire, are all are being questioned at police stations around the country.
Mr Hogben advised people to use the online register of charities on the Charity Commission website to check whether an organisation is legitimate before making a donation.
The Charity Commission has issued Safer Giving advice on its website for those wishing to fund raise or donate to charities helping those affected by the Syria crisis.
It has also published regulatory alerts for charities and charitable appeals responding to the Syria crisis, providing advice to safeguard them from being abused for non-charitable purposes, and reminding them of their legal duties and responsibilities under charity law, particularly in relation to involvement in convoys and delivery of humanitarian aid.
Anyone with information relating to the fraudulent use of charity finds should call Kent Police's hotline on 07964 132889.