Taxpayers could see a rise in bills after a Suffolk council revealed it had lost £52,000 in a "complex" scam.

West Suffolk Council revealed it had been a victim of "mandate fraud", amounting to nearly £52,000, at its performance and audit scrutiny committee on Thursday.

Mandate fraud is a ‘complex scam’ where fraudsters hack into suppliers’ emails and send ‘genuine emails’ to customers, including the council, asking for a payment.

Councillor Diane Hind, cabinet member for resources, said: “Although we did catch the fraud and stopped further funds going out, unfortunately, this was after payment had been made.

“We have been in contact with the company whose security was breached and the email supplier as well as strengthening and reinforcing our own practices.

“This is a prevalent crime that is very hard to solve and prosecute and we would want to see much more focus nationally on this.”

However, during the meeting, it was also revealed the missing £52,000 could be equivalent to a 0.5 per cent increase in council tax for the next financial year.

Opposition leader, councillor Nick Clarke, said: “It sticks in everyone’s throat a little bit when 0.5 per cent of that raise will be to cover up this fraud event.

“Yes, these fraudsters are very clever but this is a considerable sum of money.”

Nevertheless, Mr Clarke also acknowledged this could happen to ‘the best well-run organisations’.

The fraud was revealed at a time when preparations for next year’s budget are well under way, with more information expected on how measures, such as the cancellation of the Western Way project, will play out when balancing the books.

Although the scam, or the leisure centre’s cancellation, will not be directly behind any proposed increase in council tax, they will reflect on how the council manages to present a balanced budget.

But council leader, Cliff Waterman, assured residents the new administration would ensure the impacts of the scam, the project’s cancellation, and all the other savings councillors are having to find, would have the least impact on services and council tax possible.

Assurances were also given that measures had been put in place to prevent any further fraud events from happening in the future.