Tess Nichol is the Consumer Affairs reporter for the Herald.

Charity to finally benefit from fake fundraiser

A student who claimed to have met footballer Lionel Messi and US President Barack Obama during a trip to Afghanistan ripped off his school and fellow students in a fake charity fundraiser. Photo / AP
A student who claimed to have met footballer Lionel Messi and US President Barack Obama during a trip to Afghanistan ripped off his school and fellow students in a fake charity fundraiser. Photo / AP

The principal of an Auckland high school whose students were scammed out of thousands of dollars by a student says it's in the process of having the money repaid.

The mufti-day scam, in which students donated about $2700 worth of gold coins to what turned out to be a fake charitable cause, resulted in the expulsion of one Year 12 student.

The school had been working to recover the money since at least early September.

"We've had some of the money back and expect the rest back at some point soon," the school's principal told the Herald this week.

"When we get all of the money back we will make a decision on where it goes in terms of another charity."

The Herald has chosen not to name the student, or the school, to protect his identity.

The principal said the school hoped to have the rest of the money returned by the end of the year, but declined to say how much had been recovered so far.

"We hope to get the rest of the money back by the end of the year and when we do, my thinking is, I will talk to the charity council at school to come up with a worthy local cause between us."

The student was co-operating with repaying the money and had since started at another school with the support of the college, he said.

The scam, which happened at a mufti day back in August, was based around a fake charitable cause with the student claimed he was raising money for poor children he had met on a trip to Afghanistan.

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.

He was expelled several weeks later, when the school discovered the ruse.

Last month, one of the student's former classmates described how the fundraising mufti-day had been promoted as a way to help people in war-torn Afghanistan.

"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, thinking their money was going to a good cause.

It is believed that several weeks after his address to the school assembly, speculation began about whether something was amiss, partly because of pictures the boy used in his presentation.

- NZ Herald

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