jailed for fleecing charity out of £40,000

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A “genuine and trustworthy” man has been jailed after he fleeced a charity of more than £40,000 while working as a voluntary treasurer.

Rehman Arif, 48, made out cheques to himself which he signed with forged signatures of other committee members of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

He was jailed for 14 months on Wednesday at Sheffield Crown Court after admitting fraud by abuse of position.

The court heard how Arif, a father-of-two, had been made the society’s treasurer at the Sheffield and Rotherham branch after losing his job, but had started to struggle to keep up the payments on his family home.

Between November 2009 and December 2011 Arif made out 32 cheques out to himself totalling £41,227 using forged signatures.

He also made out 31 cheques to cash worth more than £8,500 and forged an audit report to cover his tracks.

Ian Goldsack, defending, said he stopped stealing at the end of December 2011 when his financial situation improved.

But the fraud was discovered in August 2012 by the branch’s chairman, Harry Smith.

Mr Smith said Arif came across as a “genuine and trustworthy man”, with other volunteers happy for him to have ‘control’ over the accounts.

Mr Goldsack said Arif, of Rotherham, was remorseful and faces losing his home to pay it back.

He said: “This is not a fundamentally dishonest man who exploited his position, but a good person who found himself in a difficult situation and dealt with it badly. He started to borrow money, intending to pay it back, and was shocked when the true amount he had taken was revealed to him.”

Sentencing, Judge Paul Watson QC told Arif: “It is beyond doubt there is much good about you, but when you got into financial difficulties in 2009, you used your position to pay cheques of more than £40,000 into your own account.

“It was a substantial amount of money which reflects the level of debt you found yourself in and which gave rise to this offending.

“For that level of offending there can be little sympathy for your personal position.”