Fraudsters pretending to be Euromillions winners Adrian and Gillian Bayford have targeted a charity to try and con it out of cash.
Tony Gearing, 53, almost fell foul of the con as his charity Young People of the Year was targeted by people pretending to be the Haverhill family that won £148 million in August.
Mr Gearing, from Stradishall, had written to the Bayfords asking for a donation towards his charity, which aims to improve the image of young people in the media.
Three months later he went into the now-closed Suffolk Music Centre to drop off his card, and days later had an e-mail saying his charity was among those chosen for a donation from the couple, and that it was due to be given £1.5 million.
He replied to the fraudsters but became suspicious when e-mails began to ask for the charity’s bank details to be given to a Ukrainian bank.
“I feel like a plonker for believing this scam and responding with details of the charity,” he said.
“This e-mail arrived within a week (after dropping off his card) so I really thought it was a genuine response to my approach as it appeared to come from the personal address of Adrian Bayford.”
“The e-mail looked very, very legitimate as it came from the UK and had the Bayfords name, and said our charity had been chosen along with five others for donations and asked to provide various information, which I did.
“Thankfully I realised it was a scam when further e-mails started to arrive, purporting to be from a bank in the Ukraine.
“I don’t normally respond to anything like this but it arrived three days after I dropped off my business card, so I thought it was genuine.”
Mr Gearing stopped replying to the e-mails and contacted YOPEY’s bank Barclays.
“They said these do fit the profile of a popular scam and that they will try to follow the trail of e-mails.
“I hope anyone who receives these e-mails will not be as gullible as me and 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 and rip people off.”
Mr Gearing said he did not reply to the e-mails with enough information for the conmen to take money off the charity, though they could find out his home address.
The Bayfords won £148.6 million in the Euromillions last August. Suffolk Music Centre in Queen Street closed last month.
The e-mail was sent from the address email@example.com
It said the couple already support ‘the Red Cross, Haiti, some hospitals majorly involved in cancer treatment, and some other charity organizations in Africa, Asia and Europe that figth cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes’. It said a Mr Kostas from Cyprus had been given money from them.
It said YOPEY would get £1.5 million from JSCB Citibank Ukraine, and to e-mail details to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone suspecting they are the victim of fraud can call police on 101.
For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, January 10) Echo.