Community raises £20,000 for Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary after cruel email scam

The owner of a Whitby charity is 'overwhelmed by the generosity' of the community after online hackers stole £13,000.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 9:12 am
Updated Thursday, 31st October 2019, 9:15 am
Picture: Ceri Oakes

Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary has been allegedly defrauded out of £13,000 after emails to pay an invoice were intercepted.

Charity founder Alexandra Farmer was left "heartbroken" and "devastated" after falling victim to the online hackers.

After the charity's loss became public last week, the community rallied round to help replace some of the funds and in total have donated over £20,000.

Speaking about the support the charity has received, Alexandra said: "After the theft of over £13,000 two weeks ago, when an email hacker stole from us, you have all shown so much generosity and support.

"A kind supporter set up a crowdfunding page and many of you donated in other ways too. In total, you have donated over £20,000! We are also excited for several upcoming fundraising events that are being organised in the next couple of months."

"We are overwhelmed by this amount and our work to move the animals over to our new site before Christmas is resuming."

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The funds that were transferred had been to pay for materials for the project and Alexandra estimated it would be delayed for around six months.

She added: "It is thanks to your generosity that all of our seabirds, waterfowl, pigeons and the thousand plus hens we will soon help, will have large, secure enclosures before Winter really hits. Work resumes in 3 weeks time. Yes, we will still carry out our big annual hen rescue this Winter too!

"The suppliers got in touch this morning and are donating all of the fence posts for free which saves us over £500."

The charity were made aware that their payment of £13,000 to their regular supplier was intercepted after the bank called about suspected possible fraud and it has been confirmed to be true.

Alexandra has also been in contact with suppliers which she says “are extremely shocked and are conducting their own investigations," she said. "Their policy has changed on how they send invoices as we received a proforma document instead of the details in an email."

The incident has been reported and Action Fraud has confirmed the case is currently being assessed by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

"We still haven't heard back from the bank, Action Fraud or the police but we are still pursuing to get that £13,000 back. If we do, we hope to move a big project forward. A project which we did not expect to do till the Spring. A series of large flight enclosures for birds of prey, corvids and squirrels," she added.

Speaking about the support of the public, Alexandra added: “I could cry all over again. The support from the public have been amazing. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to you all."