Not so ‘helpful hands’ lands fake charity in court
- The Office of Fair Trading froze the bank accounts of man found guilty of collecting donations illegally
- Queenslanders are urged to make sure the charity is registered by checking on the Queensland Government’s “check a charity” website and the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission website before they donate.
A New South Wales man has pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching the Collections Act 1966 after an investigation by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
David Oneeglio from Pottsville, New South Wales, has been prosecuted and fined $750 in the Brisbane Magistrates Court (12 June 2023) after requesting donations without approval.
He was also charged with failing to produce requested information and records to account properly for money and equipment received.
In March and April 2022 Mr Oneeglio made numerous daily public statements asking for donations to be made via websites www.aussiehelpers.live and www.aussiehelpinghands.com to assist flood affected communities in northern New South Wales.
Pleas for donations were made across a variety of social media platforms and websites.
As a result of investigations, the OFT took swift action and froze three separate bank accounts containing donations. The OFT will transfer the donations to the Public Trustee for dispersal to relevant charities.
This is a reminder for Queenslanders who are thinking of fundraising, that you need to make sure you have the right approvals to begin a charitable appeal before you start collecting money.
Groups and organisations can apply for registration as a charity or may obtain a sanction for a one-off appeal. More information about fundraising for a charitable purpose can be found on the Office of Fair Trading’s website.
Legitimate charities are registered – you check an organisation’s credentials at the Queensland Government charity register and at the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) websites to see if they are a genuine charity.
The OFT seeks to clarify that the charity of ‘Aussie Helpers Limited’ with the website https://aussiehelpers.org.au is in no way connected with Mr Oneeglio or his associates. Aussie Helpers Limited is a registered charity that was established in 2006 for the purpose of providing drought relief to farmers.
Quotes attributable to Fair Trading Commissioner Victoria Thomson:
“We know there are often opportunistic scammers following natural disasters such as flooding, cyclones and bushfires,” Ms Thomson said.
“And we know that when communities are in need, Australians dig deep.
“However, you need to know where your money is going before you donate. That’s why I’m encouraging everyone to go online and check if the charity is registered before you donate.
“Importantly, if you are thinking of starting up an appeal or fundraising – make sure you have the right authorisation.”