Three held over 'charity fraud'

Updated: 

PA

Three more men have been arrested by police investigating charity fraud involving thousands of pounds intended to help people in Syria.

The suspects, aged 39, 41 and 42, were arrested in Derby today on behalf of Kent Police after more than £45,000 was seized at the Port of Dover on December 23, 2012.

The money - £31,816, plus 8,310 euros (£6,857) and 10,700 US dollars (£6,413) - which had come from four UK-based charities, was taken by police who believed it could be used for criminal or terrorist activities.

The men have been taken to a police station in Derby for questioning, a Kent Police spokesman said.

Nine men, aged between 30 and 43, who were arrested in March at addresses across the UK, including in Derby, Essex, London, Dewsbury and Huddersfield, remain on police bail until September 1.

Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Hogben said: "We have now arrested 12 men across the country as part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged fraudulent use of funds from four UK-based charities.

"Our investigation aims to ensure funds given by the public reach their intended destination and are not used in connection with criminal activity.

"It is imperative that the public has confidence in the charities they support and in the money they are donating being used for the purpose it is intended.

"We are working with our partners around the country and want to hear from anyone who has information relating to the fraudulent use of charity funds"

Abdul Waheed Majeed, 41, who was born and raised in Crawley, West Sussex, left Britain in 2013, telling his family he was going on a humanitarian mission to Syria.

But the father-of-three died in a suspected suicide attack. He is believed to have driven a lorry to a jail in Aleppo, before detonating a bomb, in February.

Abdullah Deghayes, 18, from Brighton, is believed to have died in Kassab, in Latakia province, last month after leaving the UK in January.

His father, Abubaker Deghayes, learned of his son's death via Facebook, and pleaded for his other two others sons, Jaffar, 16, and 20-year-old Amer to return from Syria.

He insisted his three sons were not "terrorists" but had travelled to Syria to defend "those who are weak".

Abdullah Deghayes, who was due to go to university in Brighton, is the nephew of Omar Deghayes, who was held by the United States as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay detention camp between 2002 and 2007 after he was arrested in Pakistan.

Around 400 Britons are thought to have gone to Syria over the last two years, authorities believe, with an estimated 20 having died.

Photographs were also published in January of two British brothers, named in reports as Akra and Mohamed Sebah from north London, who were believed to have died in battle in the war-torn country in September.

Other Britons have died after going to help with humanitarian relief.

Dr Abbas Khan, a father of two from London, died while being held in custody by the Syrian government on December 17.

The family of the 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon, who was captured in Aleppo in November 2012, claims he was murdered while being held prisoner. The Syrian government claims he committed suicide.

Mr Hogben has advised people to use the online register of charities on the Charity Commission website to check whether an organisation is legitimate before making a donation.

Anyone with information relating to the fraudulent use of charity funds should call Kent Police's hotline on 07964 132889.

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