A religious leader from Sydney’s west has been charged following an investigation into alleged charity fraud of nearly $100,000.
Officers from Campsie Police Area Command, alongside detectives attached to the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad commenced an investigation into the allegations earlier this year.
During this time, they are reported to have identified that a 55-year-old man had established a ‘religious council’ and was collecting donations from Islamic community groups across Australia.
The funds were intended for overseas charities in Bosnia.
Police will allege that the man had been misappropriating the funds for personal use to the value of approximately $100,000 since 2009 and was falsely reporting information to Fair Trading.
The charities which are the alleged victims are based all over Australia.
The investigation into the offences begun after a number of community members raised concerns regarding the legitimacy of the charity.
Police executed a search warrant at the man’s Yagoona residence, where they uncovered $6,500 in cash, an extendable baton, and relevant documentation.
The man was arrested and taken to Bankstown Police Station.
He was subsequently charged with seven counts of dishonestly obtain financial advantage by deception, three counts of make false/misleading statement for authority/benefit and possess prohibited weapon.
“These kinds of alleged crimes are based on greed… They have the ability to financially cripple good people in the community.”commented Campsie Police Area Command’s acting Inspector Andrew Mackay.
“We will allege he approached a number of Islamic organisations, they were the primary targets in this alleged charity fraud…. the man asked for charitable donations to be used overseas and that never occurred.” he explained.
Pursuant to section 192E of the Crimes Act, a person who, by any deception, dishonestly obtains property belonging to another, or obtains any financial advantage or causes any financial disadvantage, is guilty of fraud.
The maximum penalty applicable is 10 years imprisonment if the matter is dealt with in the District Court, or 2 years where it is dealt with in the Local Court.
Under the Crimes Act, ‘dishonesty’ is judged to according to the standards of ordinary people.
Deception is defined as any intentional or reckless deception, by words or other conduct, as to fact or as to law.
It may include deception as to the intentions of the offender or any other person, or conduct by a person that causes a computer, a machine, or any electronic device to make a response that the person is not authorised to cause it to make.
Obtaining financial advantage includes doing so for oneself or for another person and inducing a third person to do so, whether the financial advantage is permanent or temporary.
In determining the objective seriousness of a fraud offence, the court will consider factors such as the amount of money involved, whether the loss is irretrievable and the length of time over which the offences are committed.
The courts have also regarded the impact on public confidence and the impact on the victim as relevant matters.
Notably, a majority of fraud cases involve multiple offences.
Therefore, when sentencing an offender, the court is required to have regard to the fact that the applicant is being sentenced for multiple offences and ensure that the ultimate sentence imposed is appropriate to the totality of the applicant’s offending and their personal circumstances.
Available defences to this type of offence include duress, necessity, mental illness, or a claim of right.