Fraudsters raid paralysed girl's account
FRAUDSTERS raided a charity account set up to raise funds for vital equipment and treatment for a paralysed motocross rider, it has emerged.Laurie Squirrell, 17, was in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire, coming to terms with the fact that she was paralysed from the chest down when her bank account was targeted.
FRAUDSTERS raided a charity account set up to raise funds for vital equipment and treatment for a paralysed motocross rider, it has emerged.
Laurie Squirrell, 17, was in Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire, coming to terms with the fact that she was paralysed from the chest down when her bank account was targeted.
Her parents opened the special account after being overwhelmed with offers of money from people eager to help the young star of motocross racing. Fundraising events were arranged all over the country for the teenager after she broke her back in a high-speed crash while practising for her first professional race in San Antonio, USA, last year.
She was focussing on becoming well enough to return home to Hitcham, near Stowmarket, in time for her birthday in March when direct debits were set up to take money from her charity account every month.
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Laurie's mother, Julie Squirrell, said: “You don't think that there would be a problem giving the details out because people do want to contribute. You don't think people would be that nasty and do that to you.”
When Laurie was in hospital, a statement for the account came through and her parents noticed the error.
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Mrs Squirrell said she believed the direct debits were to companies in Ireland and were set up online and through mobile phones using the sort code and account number the family released to make it easier for people to donate.
She said: “We had noticed about four different direct debits set up. At first we thought Laurie must have set them up by mobile phone with her boyfriend at the time.
“We asked Laurie and she said 'I don't know anything about it'. We got in touch with the police and we had to sort it out with the bank and change all the account numbers and everything.
“We were upset really that someone could do that in the situation. Who can do that?
“It worked out to be about £40 per direct debit. The bank reimbursed her but it was a good job we did look at it, as they were set up to come out every month.”
The account has raised thousands of pounds for Laurie and paid for a specially adapted Mini car and facilities at home for the teenager.
The family now want to concentrate the fund on possible treatment for her, which could cost in the region of £100,000, but they want to wait until it has been fully proven and tested.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said the incident had been reported and was currently being investigated.
A spokesman for Barclays bank, where the account was held, said: “Obviously Barclays takes fraud very seriously.
“Customers should rest assured that in all cases where they are genuine victims of fraud activity we will cover any losses incurred.
“We will co-operate with the relevant authorities, including the police.”