Bury Hospice loses £235,000 to 'elaborate hoax'

Police are investigating what happened to the Greater Manchester charity, and another charity, Bolton Hospice, says only vigilant staff and internal systems prevented it from falling victim to a similar attempt

Bury Hospice
Bury Hospice

A Greater Manchester-based hospice has lost £235,000 to a "sophisticated" fraud and another hospice in the area has narrowly avoided a significant fraud from taking place, the charities have said.

Bury Hospice said in a statement yesterday that cyber criminals stole £235,000 from the charity’s bank accounts on 11 July.

The hospice said the fraud involved an "elaborate hoax" involving an online virus check, and police officers from the national fraud investigation team were investigating what had happened.

The hospice said it could give no further details on how the fraud was carried out because of the ongoing police investigation.

Bolton Hospice said it had also been targeted by fraudsters in what it called a "sophisticated fraud" that included "a triangulated attack that involved contacting one of our major suppliers and having our bank’s telephone number on caller display".

But the charity avoided losing any money because of staff vigilance and its internal financial control system, a statement from Bolton Hospice said.

Eileen Fairhurst, chair of Bury Hospice, said in a statement that the hospice had reported the incident to the Charity Commission and the charity was attempting to recover the money.

Fairhurst said: "We are shocked and sickened that fraudsters would target hospices and other charities. It is beneath contempt when you think that this money was raised by hard-working volunteers and kind benefactors, and what it is needed for.

"We are now carrying out a full investigation and keeping in close contact with our bank. Our own protection systems are now subject to extensive review."

Fairhurst said the fraud would have no immediate impact on the running of Bury Hospice.

The statement from Bury Hospice said that other charities in Greater Manchester had been targeted in a similar way and some had lost money as a result. A spokeswoman for the charity declined to reveal the names of the other charities.

Leigh Vallance, chief executive of Bolton Hospice, said: "Bolton Hospice was recently subjected to a very sophisticated fraud attempt that, had it been successful, would have led to the loss of a significant amount of money.

"Thanks to our robust internal financial control systems and the hyper-vigilance of staff, this attempted fraud failed. Even so, the impact on my staff has been very distressing for them, knowing that this could so easily have been a very different story given the sophisticated nature of this fraud.

"My heartfelt sympathy goes out to any charity that has been scammed in this way."

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