Xahra Saleem, 23, stands accused of using her public and online profile to raise money for charity and spending the donations on herself.
Saleem was sentenced to two and a half years in jail.
Saleem, from Romford, east London, previously pleaded guilty to fraud by abusing her position as director of Changing Your Mindset Ltd, by transferring monies to her personal bank accounts and then spending it between June 2020 and September 2021.
She claimed the funds would support the young people in the St Paul’s area of Bristol.
According to The Telepgraph, she gained a high public profile as a member of the Black Lives Matter march in Bristol in 2020.
2,500 payments were made from Saleem’s account
Judge Michael Longman told Saleem this was “a worthwhile cause but that money you then used not for their benefit but for your own, funding a lifestyle for yourself that you could not otherwise have afforded.”
The prosecution said that, in the 15 months to September 2021, there were more than 2,500 donations payments made from Saleem’s account .
The expenses were mainly general shopping and bills, plus a new iPhone, hair and beauty appointments, clothes stores, Amazon purchases, taxis and takeaways.
According to The Telegraph, the court heard that Saleem appeared to be devoted to the cause.
Many believed she could be trusted after community worker Rebecca Scott helped her set up the BLM march.
The judge said Saleem then “in gratitude” offered to set up a fundraising page, which went live in 2020.
The money raised was supposed to be earmarked for projects to help the young in St Paul’s.
A youth organization called Changing Your Mindset Ltd. was set up which “plainly had a charitable purpose”, the judge added.
Saleem became a director, along with others who were already active in the St Paul’s community. However, setting up a business account as intended became difficult.
Donations amount raised ‘exceeded expectations’
The judge said: “The amount raised exceeded expectations by a significant margin and raised over $32,000.
“The money was not transferred and you made excuses for that failure.”
Earlier the prosecution had said that Saleem transferred several hundred pounds into the account of a relative in July 2020 with the reference “Fred, hold it for me please” and added, “from that point onwards the floodgates opened and the defendant used the money freely with no funds being credited to the account to cover the shortfall”.
Saleem eventually admitted the money had gone but reportedly offered contradictory excuses as to why.
She also offered to report herself to the police but didn’t.
In June 2021, it was found that Saleem had discussed the donations fraud over WhatsApp with a friend. She said: “I have done something horrendous, you can’t tell anyone until I have properly sorted it out.”
The Telegraph reports draft apology messages were also found on her phone.
Saleem claimed she had suffered from psychosis which stopped her from thinking rationally.
Changing Your Mindset has since shut down its operations.