Haverhill: Charity warns of Lotto e-mail scam

A CHARITY boss yesterday warned people to be wary of tricksters after he fell victim to a scam e-mail claiming to be from Suffolk lottery winners Adrian and Gillian Bayford, offering him �1.5m for his organisation.

Tony Gearing, the founder and trustee of YOPEY (Young People of the Year), said he was embarrassed to have been duped and called on people to be alert to the false e-mails.

The 53-year-old, who is based in Stradishall, had written to the Bayfords in September after the Haverhill couple, who won �148.6million on the EuroMillions jackpot, indicated that they wanted to share their win with family, friends and childrens’ charities.

He said: “YOPEY promotes young positive role models to inspire the younger generation to give to the community so I thought they might like to consider us.

“By mid-December I had not had a reply so I visited their shop and left my card.

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“An e-mail arrived within a week so I really thought it was a genuine response to my approach as it appeared to come from a personal email address of Adrian Bayford.

“Thankfully I realised it was a scam when further e-mails started to arrive purporting to be from a bank in the Ukraine.

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“I immediately stopped replying and contacted Barclays, YOPEY’s bank.

“I feel like a plonker for believing this scam and responding to the e-mail with details of the charity I run. But the scammer’s timing was perfect.”

The email said that Mr and Mrs Bayford were happy to hear from Mr Gearing.

It said: “We plan to take care of the needs of our immediate family members and make some of our friends millionaires because we believe in making others comfortable and happy like us.

“My wife and I have assist the local fire department, the Red Cross, Haiti, some hospitals majorly involved in cancer treatment and some other charity organizations in Africa, Asia and Europe that fight cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.”

It went on to say that Mr Gearing’s details had been submitted to their bank in Ukraine and awaited confirmation and further information from him in order to release the �1.5m

Mr Gearing, a father of four, said: “I just want people to be aware of this and not to be so susceptible as I was and put my charity at risk.

“I hope anyone who receives these e-mails will immediately pass them to their bank and the police to hopefully track down the fraudsters, who are using the good name of a local family to try to rip people off.”

Barclays Bank acted swiftly to put Mr Gearing’s mind at ease and warned that the scammers may possibly target people living in the Bayfords’ area to make the scam seem even more believable.

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