NICVA warns community groups over minibus scheme
The NI Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) has warned community groups to be cautious about a minibus funding scheme.
It says it has been contacted by a number of organisations offered a new minibus if a deposit of £4,800 is paid.
The cash has to be transferred within days to ensure participation.
NICVA has said that a number of groups have handed over the money. However, it said there appears to be no orders for any minibuses with the named supplier.
Representatives from NICVA visited the group running the scheme, which cannot be named for legal reasons, and were not happy with the responses they received.
They said they asked the organisation to return the cash pre-payments received until a contract had been agreed.
The groups were then contacted and told they had the option of having their money returned.
However, NICVA has said that to-date, none of the groups has got its money back.
A PSNI spokesperson said police were working to establish if any offence had taken place.
NICVA fundraising manager Neil Irwin said he was wary of the scheme.
He added: "I have been working in this area for over ten years and I have never come across a scheme where a funder is requiring payment in a matter of days.
"That should automatically raise people's suspicions.
"I would recommend that they agree a contract with anyone that is agreeing to provide the service."