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Charity fraudster jailed

The treasurer of a Christian charity has been jailed for five years after stealing £500,000 through false Gift Aid claims.

Steven Methuen of Stourbridge controlled the finances of Amblecote Christian Centre and Christian International Relief Mission from where he stole £195,000 and £117,000 respectively, in false Gift Aid claims. He also siphoned off a further £205,000 from the former, transferring all funds into his personal bank account.

When questioned, Methuen told HMRC he was innocent and discrepencies were a result of computer errors. However, digital forensic analysis of the computers in question proved this to be untrue. He was able to pay off his personal credit cards with the stolen funds.

Assistant director at the Criminal Taxes Unit for HMRC Graham Ranson argued that Methuen had distorted Gift Aid's purpose in working for the benefit of charities and claimed the local community would be 'horrified' to learn of Methuen's crime which had been going on for 'a number of years.'

After pleading guilty to five counts of fraud and twelve counts of theft Methuen will spend the next five years behind bars.

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