Police are investigating alleged charity fraud in Sydney after reports a woman posing as a children’s cancer foundation representative has allegedly been collecting money from residents.
Kids With Cancer Foundation Australia warned supporters on Wednesday “to be aware” of the woman they claim uses the name “Jessie” and carries photo identification depicting their logo of two smiling stick figures wearing pink and blue.
She has been spotted in Sydney’s west and southwest.
“Don’t give her any money, we have never used door knockers, anywhere nor at any time,” the post on Facebook reads.
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According to the foundation, the woman has been seen in Casula, Merrylands, Mount Pritchard and Pendle Hill, including as recently as this week.
The post was flooded with comments from people claiming they had also seen her in the past year in Fairfield Heights, Guildford West, Wattle Grove and Woodpark.
In a statement to news.com.au on Thursday night, NSW Police said Liverpool officers began investigating in January after reports a woman who identified herself as “Jessie” and a representative of a children’s cancer foundation had collected money from homes in Casula.
“Inquiries have since revealed the woman is not affiliated with the nominated charity organisation and may be operating in other suburbs in Sydney’s west,” police said.
“Investigators have now released images of a woman who they believe may be able to assist with their inquiries.
“The woman depicted is described as being of Caucasian appearance, aged in her 40s to 50s, about 170cm tall, of slim build and with blonde hair. She is shown wearing a black jacket, tights and shoes, carrying a black bag and wearing a name tag.”
Detective Inspector Tim Liddiard said all reports of fraud are thoroughly investigated, especially when someone is reported to have taken advantage of the community’s generosity.
Since 1998, the Kids With Cancer Foundation Australia has passed on millions of dollars in funds to build or renovate children’s cancer wards and research units.
Their efforts include funding a full-time social worker for Bear Cottage in Manly, a gene therapy research assistant at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, renovating the oncology ward in Sydney’s Children’s Hospital and fitting out the Children’s Cancer Centre in Monash Children’s Hospital in Victoria.
“The vast majority of the requests that we receive for funding are to provide funds that will allow the oncology units in the hospitals to employ the additional clinicians to care for the kids, and provide the clinical help that will relieve suffering now,” the foundation states.
“We also hope that our direct family financial assistance that may be used for something as simple as a walking frame or recliner chairs to make the kids more comfortable when they receive treatment, will also provide some relief to the pain and suffering of the youngest of patients.”
Foundation director Peter Bodman told 10 News First the alleged act is “pretty low” and the charity is hoping police “put a stop to it”.
“It’s going into somebody’s pocket, so it’s not going to help the kids in any way, shape or form,” he said.
Police are urging anyone with information that could assist investigators to contact local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.