What about Iran Aid?

Over the months that the Hampstead hoax has dragged on, a recurring question has kept popping up about one of the hoax’s originating voices, Belinda McKenzie: “What about Iran Aid?”

One of our regular readers, Fairly Sane, is better acquainted than most with Iran Aid, and was kind enough to put together a fascinating and very telling recollection of his dealings with the charity:

Iran Aid was a highly irregular organisation which was closed down in 1998 by the Charities Commission after refusing to allow its accounts to be inspected. Millions of pounds of donations disappeared into a foreign bank account and all the charities records were conveniently destroyed in a fire at its offices.

Most people at Hoaxtead probably know this much, and that Belinda McKenzie and her “husband” Esmail Vafa Yaghmaei were heavily involved (though they claim NOT to have benefitted personally from its funds). What might be hard to understand is how an obscure organisation could rake in an estimated £5 million a year.

The answer is that they did what Belinda McKenzie does best: latch onto vulnerable people and exploit them shamelessly. I know this from personal experience. As the events I am about to describe took place nearly 20 years ago, my memory may not be perfect, but I will attempt to write as accurate an account as I can.

In the early 1990s I was a fairly naive young man studying in Edinburgh. One cold day, on a windy corner in the New Town, I was stopped by a young woman in a head scarf. She asked me if I could help her and if I was interested in Human Rights. I was at the time very keen to become involved with political matters and therefore stopped to talk to her.

She carried with her a large photo album with leather effect covers which she opened to reveal a selection of the most horrific images of torture victims I had ever seen. I was stunned. When she asked me if I could make a donation to her charity which helped the victims of torture in Iran, I was quite willing to take out my cheque book and make a donation of £75 (which I really couldn’t afford).

When I arrived at my college later that day I obviously looked disturbed enough for a friend to enquire what was the matter with me. I told her that I had made a donation to charity; she said “Not to those people with the horrible photos!”

I must have given some details to the young woman in Edinburgh, as for years afterwards I received Christmas cards from Iran Aid. These usually contained a message thanking me for my support and had distinctive designs, usually of children of all nations holding hands around a globe, or doves rendered in batik.

On the 6th of September 1997, right in the middle of Princess Diana’s funeral service, I received a phone call: “I am phoning from Iran Aid, some of our representatives would like to call at your home to thank you personally for your support”.

I didn’t agree to that, I was already suspicious of what these people were about, but I did agree that they could call on me at my place of work one lunch time. A date was arranged, but I thought I should do some homework on Iran Aid before the meeting.

We had the internet at work and I was able to use it to look up the number of the Charities Commission. I made a phone call and asked if Iran Aid was a legitimate charity. The reply I got was, “Iran Aid is a registered charity.” But this was said in such a precisely phrased and weary manner that I wasn’t entirely reassured.

I worked in a small office in a northern town at this point; I was very busy and not very well paid. At lunchtime on the appointed day the office emptied and I awaited a knock at the door. When it came I was confronted by a pair of Middle Eastern gentlemen in suits and raincoats.

One was grey-haired and spoke very little, the other was younger, had an enormous moustache and was very chatty. They asked if there was a private office where we could talk. I showed them into the back office which was unoccupied. I took a seat behind a desk, and they carefully arranged themselves in office chairs between myself and the door.

After introductions the first one began his spiel: “Thank you so much for your donation. Now to continue our work, could I ask you to commit to a regular donation of just £3,000…”

Unbelievably, up until they arrived, I had thought about making them a further donation for their humanitarian work—but my mind was changed fairly quickly. “We work to protect the children of political dissidents … these children need to be hidden from the Iranian state.”

From a clear plastic folder he starts producing photos of children, probably of primary school age. The images are grainy, the children are in nondescript settings, with white walls and slightly tarty furnishings, which could have been a house in Tehran, but might just have easily been Benidorm or Salford.

I protested that I really could not afford to spend that sort of money; he replied, “Why not just half of that, £2,000, the children really need your support.” I noted early on that his grasp of mathematics was decidedly rum. “We have a supporter who is a single mother who has taken on a second job to help the children.”

He then produced a second plastic folder; this contained letters to the children written by charity supporters. It struck me as odd, firstly that he had showed me the photos of the oh-so-secret and vulnerable children without really knowing who I was, and that he should also show me a folder full of what was effectively other people’s private correspondence.

Many of the letters contained photographs of the donors, they were in the main elderly ladies. Bartering over the amount I could afford to donate continued, division by two usually resulting  in two-thirds of the original sum, and the younger mans approach began to get decidedly weird.

“See the little ‘x’s this lady has put on her letter, these are kisses—and the little hearts, they are toffee kisses…” He leaned close then stopped, probably seeing my look of horror in response to his inappropriate sexual advance. I was in a position where I physically couldn’t escape; it seemed the only way to get rid of this pair of “charity collectors” was to give them what they wanted.

I signed a standing order for £200 and they were off like a shot! My boss was nearly mown down by them as he returned to work. “WHO THE HELL WHERE THEY?” he asked. I told him they were charity collectors, “Charity collectors my foot, THEY ARE BLOODY CROOKS!”

I changed my bank account details before any money could be withdrawn. I phoned the Charity Commission to make a complaint; the weary-sounding man I had first talked to explained that there were a lot of complaints about Iran Aid and their methods “and we don’t know where any of the money is going to.”

My father has contacts in the Police Force and I made a full and detailed statement to an officer who was particularly concerned about the number of elderly ladies who appeared to be victims of this organisation.

After that I heard nothing, apart from receiving the odd card from Iran Aid, which quickly found itself in my bin. Whatever, if anything, Iran Aid did as a charity, its fundraising methods were nothing short of intimidation and extortion.

It was only more recently when I discovered that Belinda McKenzie was involved with this charity, and with several hoaxes which exploited vulnerable people, that I felt I should revisit my own experiences. 

Fairly Sane, we very much appreciate you telling your story. It’s a compelling glimpse into the charity, and says something about the lengths to which Belinda has been prepared to go in pursuit of funding for her various ill-fated ventures.

Belinda_McKenzie

55 thoughts on “What about Iran Aid?

    • oh dear Danielle George has found her way here. Please be warned that this woman is as dishonest ans utterly fake as Belinda is. A mindless conspiracy theorist who recycles other people’s ideas and research and presents them as her own. She is another con trick merchant who asks vulnerable and guilable people to ‘donate’ to keep her in the bone idle self in the style to which she would like to become accustomed. One of her favourite quotes is about how she knows that Prince Charles had sex with Jimmy Saville’s dead mother! She is a complete lunatic and fantasist claiming to be agrophobic despite travelling up and down the country to deliver her ‘talks’ and also claims to be an albeno despite being a normal blond.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 😄 That’s not the real Danielle George. That’s a fake version of said wig-wearing fruitloop. This Danielle is one our longest standing team members. She has made a number of Danielle-exposing videos under her YouTube pseudonym and been blocked by the real Danielle la Verite on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I’m sure that if you say 3 hail Marys, Danielle will forgive you for your error and might even chuckle along with you over it.

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  1. It sounds like this “charity” has used a deadly combo of laying on a guilt trip with one hand and subtly intimidating the potential donor with the other. It makes me sick to think that they’ve probably also used such despicable tactics to prey on vulnerable people like the elderly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating and what evil people they are taking advantage of people’s genuine desire to help. I actually subscribe to a belief that one fifth of your income should go to charity (good karma !) but tales like this put me off registered charities years ago. I’m sure there are many legitimate ones but the bad apples spoil it for the genuine ones. I now give to people who are in need, at the coal face so to speak so I know there is no ”middle man / woman’ involved like this grifter Belinda McKenzie.

    It’s quite sickening that many have jumped onto the band wagon of the very real problem of child abuse and neglect and try to carve a profitable career out of other people’s plight. And the Hampstead hoax is riddled with these parasites.

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    • I’ve done some work for a local registered charity and have served on their ‘board’. Nothing wrong with giving to the smaller local charities but always check out their accounts on the charity commission website before you give. If they’re paying a lot in wages to the people at the top, are associated with dodgy characters or they haven’t filed accounts (like Maggie Tuttle’s ‘Children Screaming to be Heard’) don’t bother.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Just to keep you posted on the Loony Squad : the lovely Araya Soma is now promoting the suspected cannibal but certainly psychopathic mass murdering dictator Idi Amin as some sort of hero because he kicked the Jews out of Uganda,

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  4. 5. A previous Inquiry in 1996 resulted in the charity being warned about its fundraising methods. Despite this warning complaints from the public about Iran Aid’s fundraising methods reduced but continued at an unacceptable level.

    Transmission of funds to Iran and their application.

    20. During the course of the Inquiry neither the Commission, nor the Receiver and Manager, were able to see any substantive and verifiable evidence to show how the charity spent its funds in Iran, or even that the funds eventually arrived there. As a result the Commission was unable to confirm that funds reached Iran or were applied in the furtherance of the charity’s objects.

    21. The trustees maintained that the methods used to transmit and distribute funds were necessary, taking into account the vulnerability of the recipients and the circumstances in Iran. However the way that this was carried out was inherently unaccountable, and was incapable of any independent verification.

    22. The charity’s funds were all sent via a middleman based in the Middle East, but not in Iran. The Commission interviewed this intermediary in Germany with the aim of establishing the reason for the charity transmitting its funds in this way and how these funds might then reach the charity’s beneficiaries in Iran. Despite this interview, investigators were unable to establish sufficient details about the individual or his activities to suggest he was an appropriate person to handle these significant amounts of money. The trustees claimed to have references for him but would not show them to investigators.

    23. The trustees effectively had no control over the distribution of funds once these left the charity’s bank accounts in this country. Furthermore the trustees were unable to provide a satisfactory explanation for certain missing funds having admitted that by their own reckoning, 10% of the funds sent to Iran could not be accounted for. The trustees were also unable to show that adequate financial controls were in place over the distribution of funds through a complex network of intermediaries.

    24. During the Inquiry investigators sought information from other Government Departments including the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. These bodies had no knowledge of the charity operating in Iran. Representatives of Charities that operated in Iran were also asked whether they had had any contact with Iran Aid during their relief work; none had. These discussions also gave rise to serious doubts that a charity would be able to run such a large covert organisation inside Iran, supporting some 14,000 children, without it being detected by the authorities and stopped.

    25. The trustees did not co-operate fully with requests for information from the Commission’s investigators or the Receiver and Manager. Notwithstanding the trustees’ claims that records and evidence existed but were no longer available to them, the trustees did not assist even when the information requested was expected to be within their control and ability to deliver.

    http://www.iran-interlink.org/files/info/Iran%20Aid%201998%20Report.htm

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    • Thanks, Ali. The entire Iran Aid episode was quite the debacle, but Belinda still insists it was all perfectly legit and above-board, and that she didn’t personally profit from it. Since the charity’s records were all destroyed prior to the investigation by the Charities Commission, there really is no way of verifying that.

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  5. @sassyprivacy I think wordpress will have a help section, support and user forums that will able to answer your technical questions. I don’t think asking here will be productive for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Belinda: Who is she really? Don’t judge a book by its cover.

    What is the evidence, the outcome, the product of Belinda’s involvement, her ‘efforts’? That is what we need to look at, not how she presents herself, the packaging.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. .’When we arrived, Belinda McKenzie was setting up her wares outside the Aberdeen Court, pulling a battered old shopping trolley full of leaflets and a piece of 3×2 with a shoddy looking “Hollie Demands Justice“ poster stuck to it.

    Sadly, when she became aware of our presence, she tail hiked it out of there, almost getting run over in the process, and then proceeded to set up ‘stall’ on the street corner a little further down the road.

    This was viewed as extremely odd behaviour. For the last few years Belinda has used a megaphone, just to make sure everyone could hear her, it seemed as if it was almost welded to her mouth. Of course that was used during the period everyone believed her, when everyone thought the ‘story’ was true, and she could command a more than willing audience. Belinda running away!? testimony to the fact…. Belinda is not happy at all to answer questions…she is far happier, and much more in her comfort zone… to ‘tell’ people. Or, was her sharp exit something to do with her not wanting the ‘new friend’ that accompanied her to the Court being made aware of the 75 million pounds that just disappeared, went missing, from the coffers of Iran Aid, a Charity that Belinda was involved in. Or, perhaps, is it possible her new friend is part of the ‘new venture’, one that Belinda is helping to set up ….strangely enough…another charity. The Knight Foundation.’

    https://holliegreigetc.wordpress.com/tag/belinda-mckenzie/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks, Ali. This information is known to us, but bears repeating. Belinda has a very long history of being the ‘front person’ for various sketchy endeavours. She was also involved in raising money for the ‘Starchild’ hoax, we understand.

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    • I read the psychology behind this some years ago and it’s not that simple. (As I’m sure you know.) Eye direction apparently differs for visual, auditory, kinesthetic and olfactory memory and how our brains are structured can differ from person to person in little ways that affect eye direction. For example, I’m left-handed and my eyes tend to go in the opposite direction to right-handed people, except for kinesthetic memory – so you see there are differences between left and right-handed people and also individual differences. Basically, nobody who’s trying to detect a liar would just use eye direction on it’s own and they’d want to test the subject many times using control questions.

      I just thought I’d pop in and bore you as it’s still holidays and I’m running out of things to do.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Belinda is the most slimy character out of all the people supporting these hoax stories. It also makes her one of the most dangerous.

    Belinda should have been arrested immediately concerning Iran Aid and had her phone and computers confiscated. They should also have pulled down her pants and checked for devil tattoos. There has been a clear cover up for their state sponsored MI5 mind control agent……she isn’t jewish is she?

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  10. the latest Fruit Loop News from the Lotus Princess is that cancer can be cured by baking soda. I thought possibly crystals may do the trick but what would I know. I still think the planet is round.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Baking soda? No wonder the PTB don’t want us peons to know about that! Think of the money we could save! We’d die in agony, but we’d save buckets of cash.

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      • There’s something in this, you know. How many contestants from the last series of ‘The Great British Bake-Off’ have died of cancer this year? Answer: none. Nada. Zilch. Oh and what a coincidence that they just happen to have access to an abundant supply of baking soda! Why are the government covering this up? How much are the drug companies paying them? We’re through the looking glass, people.

        Liked by 1 person

    • She isn’t flogging “Miracle Mineral Supplement” is she? The people who sell that stuff are evil. Basically they claim you can cure autism by feeding your children, and giving them enemas with, a substance which is basically industrial bleach. It is very popular with anti-vaxers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve heard of this, and it’s horrible. I think Sabine has latched onto one of those ‘as seen on TV’ things and has decided to make a bit of extra cash by flogging it.

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