Money stolen from under shops’ noses using fake ‘preacher’ personas


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CHARITY: Empowering Communities currently has projects ongoing in disadvantaged regions around the world

CHARITY: Empowering Communities currently has projects ongoing in disadvantaged regions around the world

AWARENESS: Usman Sheikh holds aloft two collection boxes which had been targeted by would-be thieves in Lancashire

AWARENESS: Usman Sheikh holds aloft two collection boxes which had been targeted by would-be thieves in Lancashire

Charity box crooks target Empowering Communities

An international charity, which provides humanitarian aid to people in some of the world’s most deprived areas, is appealing to the public to be vigilant, after a number of collection boxes were stolen.

Empowering Communities, which fundraises across the UK, have seen a string of thefts over the past 12 months, with a specific focus on the Lancashire and Greater Manchester regions.

On many occasions, one individual has been to blame, yet with thefts now stretching to the Midlands and South Yorkshire, the cases are becoming more varied.

Mohammed Azeem, spokesperson for the charity, explained how people had taken on ‘fake personas’ to cunningly take collection boxes from stores.

“Our boxes are very important for the charity as they bring in vital funds to help with projects overseas,” he said.

“In a couple of areas, these thefts have been happening but it is most prevalent in the Manchester region.

DONATION: Empowering Communities has a presence across the UK, with fundraising and collection boxes helping to provide international aid and support

DONATION: Empowering Communities has a presence across the UK, with fundraising and collection boxes helping to provide international aid and support

“There is one man in particular that we have confronted over this, and we have actually been able to gather evidence which has been handed over to the police.

“He is in his mid-50s and plays the ‘preacher card’. He is going into shops and telling people he is collecting money for a new mosque and pressuring them to hand over all the charity box money.

“If that approach doesn’t work, he says he is part of Empowering Communities. This is an approach we have seen elsewhere too.”

The charity, which has their central offices based in Bradford,  has renewed their appeal for vigilance.  Reports of thefts in Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Sheffield show there is a spike in the increase of these crimes.

It is believed one person is again at the heart of the fraudulent collections.

Mohammed praised the Bradford community for their support of the charity since its founding three years ago.

“Our county here has done us really proud,” he said. “The odd box has gone missing here or there, but often it is due to clerical errors. Overall the Yorkshire community has been really good.

“I would just like to once again ask people who are kind enough to have our collection boxes in their stores or premises to please just be vigilant when it comes to keeping the funds safe.

“Every penny goes to a great cause and we appreciate the public’s generosity.”

Empowering Communities aim to help orphans, the elderly and victims of disaster, both natural and man-made, on an international scale.

Based in West Yorkshire, the charity has a presence across the UK from Scotland to Bournemouth and Kent to Cardiff.

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