Charities watchdog bars couple who cheated donors of nearly $10,000 from making fund-raising appeals

Noryana Mohamed Salleh, 37, and her boyfriend Rajzaed Sedik, 40, were each sentenced to 36 weeks' jail for theft and cheating. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A couple who were jailed for duping donors into parting with almost $10,000 for the Bedok Youth Society for the Disabled were on Friday (Oct 12) barred from conducting any fund-raising appeals for charitable purposes.

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) issued a prohibition order under the Charities Act against Noryana Mohamed Salleh, 37, and her boyfriend Rajzaed Sedik, 40, who are both former employees of the voluntary welfare organisation (VWO).

The commissioner said in a statement that Noryana, a former donation telemarketer, and Rajzaed, who was the VWO's donation collection rider, are prohibited from appealing for funds for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes. The ban was effective from Friday.

In May, the couple were each sentenced to 36 weeks' jail for theft and cheating.

After they left their jobs at the end of 2012, Noryana and Rajzaed stole a collection of receipt booklets from the VWO's office at Block 10 Chai Chee Road.

As they were in need of money, they used the booklets to deceive several unsuspecting donors that they were making donations to the VWO.

In total, they pocketed almost $10,000.

The pair were arrested after the VWO reported the unauthorised fund-raising appeals to the police.

The COC said on Friday it was satisfied that the fund-raising appeals carried out by Noryana and Rajzaed were not done in good faith.

"Both individuals are not fit and proper persons to conduct fund-raising appeals for charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purposes," COC added.

In addition, the fund-raising appeals had been improperly administered and were not in compliance with the Charities (Fund-raising Appeals for Local and Foreign Charitable Purposes) Regulations 2012.

COC said the prohibition order was taken against the pair to safeguard public interest.

In its statement, COC advised members of the public to be discerning when they are approached by fund raisers.

The public should never feel pressured into making a donation immediately, it said.

While most fund-raising appeals are genuine, COC said it is advisable to practise these three steps before deciding to donate: Ask, check and give.

The public should first ask questions, including who the beneficiary is, how the donations will be used and how much of the donations goes to the beneficiary.

Second, the public should check the legitimacy of the fund-raising appeals.

Verification can be done via the Charity Portal and involves scanning the QR code of the fund-raising permit.

The public can also SMS "FR (space) (licence/certificate number or organisation name)" to 79777.

If in doubt, the public should contact the fund-raising organisation, and give only when they are assured that the fund-raising appeal is legitimate.

Those with concerns regarding any suspicious fund-raising appeals should report the matter to the COC.

Suspected fraud or scams should be reported to the police immediately.

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