Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary owner 'heartbroken' after losing £13,000 in online fraud

The owner of a Whitby charity has been left “heartbroken” and “devastated” after falling victim to online hackers.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 2:31 pm
Charity founder Alexandra Farmer

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

Charity founder Alexandra Farmer said: “We were in contact with a regular supplier by email for our new site. Midway through conversation with the supplier, at the point where we were about to receive the invoice, the emails were intercepted by a hacker.

“The hacker impersonated the supplier and provided their own BACs details, masking their own identify, so our money went to the thief. We sent payment of over £13k!

Charity founder Alexandra Farmer. Picture: Ceri Oakes

“This all came to light when the bank called us about suspected possible fraud and it has been confirmed to be true.”

The funds that were transferred had been to pay for materials to build two large flights enclosures, to house and home over a hundred creatures that currently live at the sanctuary located at Broomfields Farm, Whitby.

The project will now have to be delayed for around six months following the incident.

“We are devastated. We are only a small charity and when we have the general day-to-day costs of charity to pay for, this amount of money has taken a long time to slowly save up. All of those donations and fundraising efforts just gone,” Alexandra added.

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).

Alexandra has also been in contact with suppliers which she says “are extremely shocked and are conducting their own investigations”.

The charity’s work including current rescue and rehabilitation work will not be affected. However, the annual ex battery hen rescue will not be able to go ahead.

After news of the fraud was made public on Monday evening, a member of the public who recently received help from the charity, set up a crowdfunding page to help replace some of money.

In just 15 hours, more than £1,200 has been donated to support Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary.

Speaking about the support of the public, Alexandra added: “I could cry all over again. The support from the public have been amazing.

“The lady we helped recently with Amber the fox has set up a crowdfunding page on GoFundMe to help us. It has been such an upsetting time and all of your comments have meant a lot. Your support means everything.”

More information on the crowdfunding page can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/raising-lost-funds-for-whitby-wildlife-sanctuary