I'm 26, female, living at home with my parents for now (boyfriend left me to get a job abroad, said the relationship was effectively over), and over the past few months my dad was fundraising £40,000 for kids with Down's Syndrome.

I was pleased when he told me he wanted to do something helpful. Dad had always wanted to raise money for charity, but never had the time until a few years ago, when he started volunteering to teach art to kids with Down's Syndrome (2 days a week).

He raised £60,000 in total since March.

However, last night, he told me that he'd got something important to say; he confessed to pocketing the cash, spending £13,000 on a dating agency for his sister (my aunt), £5,000 on an old Mercedes car, £3,000 on a beat-up old Transit van, and £1,500 on a classic guitar from an online auction. That means there's only £37,500 left of the £60,000 he's got. It was a little-known fact my aunt wanted to join a dating agency, except to my dad and her. BTW, this dating agency is based in London and normally caters to super-rich people, but has no income-requirement.

He expects me to spend some of the cash, said "Go get that £20k Mercedes SL you saw on Autotrader that's your dream car, you can afford it now, it's gonna be so good when I see my daughter owning a classic 2000s Merc for not much money."

Don't get me wrong - dad's obsessed with Mercedes, owns things with their badging on. It's true, I liked that car, but I'd probably buy it out of my own money.

FWIW, we're middle-class; a white middle-class family (well, half-Indian, half-English, to be exact; i look less "Indian", more white, think Charli XCX the pop star if you've no idea).

I feel outraged, but didn't tell him at the time.

My mum knows, and is so angry she does not know what to do.

I did ask him at the time why he did it, he claimed "I only raised the money to look good and get in the local newspapers".

I'm not looking for legal advice, more moral advice, since my dad's fundraising seems to have been solely for making money for himself.

I'm struggling to understand why he would do this; previously he'd been very much a good person, never done anything criminal etc. but I'm worried about the consequences. I do love my dad, but am worried about what the repercussions will be when this is revealed.

It's not a case of IF this will be revealed, but WHEN people will find out.

I work in a public-facing job (ironically enough, for a non-profit organization) and have a public profile on said charity's page (local charity, not a national one) but I don't handle this kind of thing; I only do marketing, not public relations, not marketing and PR.

My basic question is; how do I handle the fact my dad raised money for charity and pocketed part of the cash? Is he a scam artist/con artist?

  • Welcome to IPS! Please take some time to read How do I write a good question and to visit your help center! As for your question, I'm not sure I understand it. If you are asking what you should do, it's off topic and we can't answer you. However, if you have a problem communicating something to someone, we can help you with that. For example, you can edit your question to ask "How do I tell my dad that I don't like how he still money?" – Ael Nov 22 '18 at 11:21
  • 1
    @jen612hsh the fact that you are now single and how that happened isn't really pertinent to how to handle your father's fraud in case you wanted to keep that information to yourself – BKlassen Nov 22 '18 at 19:59

I'm going to assume that when you ask "how to handle" your dad confessing to being a conman you mean you are looking for a way to talk to him about it, because that is all we answer on IPS.

You asked if your dad is a scam artist or a conman. If he has obtained charitable donations from people but has no intention of giving that money to the charitable cause and/or is spending the money on anything other than legitimate expenses related to a properly registered UK charity then yes, he is absolutely a conman.

It sounds like your dad confessed to you - but not because he is sorry or remorseful. If he was sorry then he'd be trying to make amends to the people he ripped off. Instead, he's trying to "buy" your support by telling you that you can spend £20,000 of it on yourself.

If you did take that money knowing it was taken from people fraudulently, you would be complicit in that crime. And to be clear, it is a crime. I imagine that your dad has not registered a charity (you can search charities in the UK HERE). If he had registered then he would have to provide the Charity Commision with accounts showing the donations received, any legitimate expenditure and the money paid towards the charitable purpose. My guess would be that either this does not exist, or he has registered a limited company with company house instead. Lots of fake charities do this, pocket the money, then file for the company to be dissolved.

I can't tell you what you should do about your dad's fraud - whether or not you should report him to the authorities - but if you want to have no part in his crime and avoid being implicated then you should tell him:

I do not want any money that you have obtained fraudulently.

Given that you work for a charitable organisation yourself, I think you have a lot to lose by inaction. Even if you are not implicated if you knew about a charity fraud and did nothing I'm not sure that would qualify you to carry on working for a charitable organisation.

  • 3
    This is a good answer. In the US, if you know about a crime and do not report it, you are an accessory to the crime. I am not a lawyer (or a barrister/solicitor) but that is important to note if you want OP to avoid being implicated. – baldPrussian Nov 22 '18 at 13:16

how do I handle the fact my dad raised money for charity and pocketed part of the cash?

I think you need to be very clear with him on two things (at minimum)

  1. That you don't approve of what he did

  2. That you want no part of it.

Optionally (you did ask for moral advice):

  1. Tell him that if he doesn't pay the money back himself you'll report him to the authorities, as you say:

It's not a case of IF this will be revealed, but WHEN people will find out.

Point this out to him, and that it's always going to be much better for him to redress this himself rather than to get "caught". If you think your dad loves you it might be worth point out that him getting caught could also have serious ramifications for your career as well and see if that can persuade him to do the right thing. When this comes to light it could also come to light that you knew about it and did nothing, even the suspicion of that being the case could kill your career in working for charities stone dead.

Is he a scam artist/con artist?

Yes. And one of the particularly despicable ones at that.

  • 3
    Last sentence you might add: He’s stealing from children with Down’s syndrome. And I suspect that stack exchange might hand over the identity of a poster in criminal cases. – gnasher729 Nov 22 '18 at 14:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.