Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

School bars teen over suspected charity con

Pupil allegedly kept money raised for poor Afghanistan children.
In a speech to the school's assembly the student asked for help fundraising to help the children - but the money allegedly went into his own pocket. Photo / Getty Images
In a speech to the school's assembly the student asked for help fundraising to help the children - but the money allegedly went into his own pocket. Photo / Getty Images

A Year 12 student accused of conning his classmates into donating thousands of dollars to a fake charitable cause has been expelled from his top Auckland high school.

The student, who the Weekend Herald has chosen not to name, raised about $2700 from a mufti day last month after claiming he was raising money for poor children he said he met on a trip to Afghanistan earlier this year.

In a speech to the school's assembly he asked for help fundraising to help the children - but the money allegedly went into his own pocket.

The student also claimed to have met United States President Barack Obama and Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi during the trip to Afghanistan.

The school's principal, who the Weekend Herald has also chosen not to name to protect the expelled student's identity, said about $2700 was raised in the form of gold coin donations for a mufti day.

He confirmed a 16-year-old, Year 12 student had been expelled recently for a reason "involving money", but did not go into further detail, saying it was a private matter between the school and the family.

"We are in the process of getting the money back and when we do it will be donated to a charitable cause," the principal said.

"We are unable to verify any claims of meeting Barack Obama or anyone else."

The school would not be pressing charges and still felt there was a duty of care to ensure the former student was looked after, the principal said.

That included helping his family to find another school to enrol him at.

Police confirmed no charges had been laid and they were not investigating the incident.

The school's board of trustees chairman also confirmed the expulsion had been discussed in the most recent board meeting, but said details of the case were discussed in committee and were therefore private.

One of the former student's classmates, who asked not to be named, said the mufti day was held last month.

"He said he had already been to Afghanistan and he had seen how things were. Poor living conditions, poverty," the classmate said. "The idea was that the money would go to charity to help the families."

It is understood some students donated five times as much as the required gold coin donation, believing their money was going to a good cause.

The classmate who spoke to the Weekend Herald contributed a $2 coin.

He wasn't worried about getting his money back but said he wanted an explanation about where it had gone.

In assembly yesterday morning, the principal addressed the issue but said it was best to "put things behind us", the classmate said.

"No one's satisfied with that.

"As students the money came from our pockets and we do have the right to know where it went."

It is believed that several weeks after the expelled student's speech, speculation began about whether something was amiss, partly because of pictures the boy used in his presentation.

- NZ Herald

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