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Cyber-fraudsters steal £10,000 from Bury St Edmunds rehab charity Focus12

PUBLISHED: 16:34 15 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:34 15 January 2016

Focus 12 charity in Bury St Edmunds had £10,000 stolen from bank accounts by fraudsters. Pictured is Chief Executive Lisa Grove.

Focus 12 charity in Bury St Edmunds had £10,000 stolen from bank accounts by fraudsters. Pictured is Chief Executive Lisa Grove.

A Suffolk charity has been left reeling after cyber-fraudsters stole £10,000 from them in two days.

Leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity Focus12, based in Bury St Edmunds, is issuing a “call to arms” to help plug the funding gap.

Lisa Grove, Focus12 chief executive, said the crime has been very painful for herself, staff and supporters but they have not been defeated.

“It has galvanised everybody,” she said. “It is a big blow to us but we are determined to beat the criminals and keep on going.

“We really do use every penny we raise so it is gut wrenching but we are holding together and our plan is to raise our profile and do lots of fundraising – it is a call to arms for anyone who has supported us, used our services or knows someone who has suffered with addiction to help us out.”

The addiction charity has recently gone through tough times as funding becomes increasingly hard to find, with Ms Grove conceding that had the £10,000 hit come last year, it could have forced the 17-year-old charity to fold.

The charity hopes to warn other organisations and small businesses about the cyber-fraud by telling how the criminals operated.

Ms Grove said: “It was a simple but effective fraud in its duplicity. Someone masqueraded as me with my email address and authorised for payments to be made to accounts which were not ours. These criminals acted very quickly. We have two fraud squads looking into it, we would like to recover the money and catch them but we are planning on the basis that we won’t see the money again.

“It is sickening because they have stolen from a charity. We subsidise a lot of people’s care, so if someone comes to us and has the right attitude and has some of the money, we may pay subsidise the rest. So for me that money is being taken from up to 20 people who we may have subsidised.

“If someone was to come to us now asking for subsidy, I don’t think we would be in a position to help.”

The fraud took place over a couple of days, before being spotted on Wednesday this week.

To support Focus12 visit www.justgiving.com/focus12

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