A CHARITY boss who fell victim to an ‘elaborate’ £44K bank scam has slammed the fraudsters as ‘beyond evil’.

Angela Dixon, CEO of Millom Network Centre, was tricked over a series of phone calls by scammers who went on to empty the charity’s bank account, taking a total of £44,790.

Staff have been left ‘reeling with shock’ and are worried they will be unable to fulfil their charity work in Millom, which includes the vital ‘Meals on Wheels’ service, lunch clubs and benefits advice.

The Co-operative Bank has confirmed that it will refund the full amount lost plus compensation for time taken to investigate the case. 

Ms Dixon said: “When I logged onto the bank account and saw to my horror that the bank account had been cleared, I was mortified.

“I cannot tell you how I felt sick to my stomach, I felt angry, blaming myself for letting it happen, thinking if I had not answered the phone this would not have happened.

“These people are beyond evil. Why would they target a charity that has helped so many people when they are down on their luck?

“We pride ourselves on doing well for the community. We help the most venerable people in our town, and we have a close-knit community with a good sense of pride.

“We have gone from being sustainable to scraping the barrel.”

Ms Dixon said one of the charity’s trustees and secretary had been contacted by someone claiming to be from the Co-operative Bank, saying there had been a problem.

The Mail: Millom Network Centre offers a number of services to vulnerable members of the communityMillom Network Centre offers a number of services to vulnerable members of the community (Image: Submitted)

Ms Dixon then received a call when she was back in work on Monday, April 29 and said the woman she spoke to was ‘very professional and convincing’.

She was told ‘a very convincing web of lies’ in which she was informed the charity’s bank account had been hacked from Aberdeen.

Ms Dixon was asked to enter her pin and to relay the generated numbers to the caller, which she did.

She was then told to refrain from accessing the bank account for the next 24 hours, to ‘allow the bank to trace any fraudulent transactions’, which Ms Dixon complied with.

But on Thursday, May 2, she checked and saw that that three payees had been set up and they had each taken huge chunks of money.

The incident was then reported to Action Fraud.

Ms Dixon said: “We are a small charity, and this is having a massive impact. 

"We're throwing ourselves on the generosity of others to help us raise vital funds to allow us to continue being there for the vulnerable of our community who rely on our services.

“Even though we may get our funds back, in the interim our bills and running costs still have to be met."

A spokesperson for the Co-operative Bank said: “We are extremely sorry that the Millom Network Centre fell victim to fraudulent activity and sympathise with the distress and inconvenience caused.

"We have now fully concluded our investigation and have agreed to refund the full amount lost, along with additional compensation for the time taken to investigate this case.

"We want to reassure our customers that we have robust security controls in place to protect them from fraud and to remind them to never share key account or security information with anyone.

"If a customer receives a phone call from someone claiming to be a bank colleague, they should hang up and call 159 to be safely routed through to our fraud team.”

A ‘Give as You Live’ page has been set up to try and raise funds for Millom Network Centre.

To donate, go to: https://donate.giveasyoulive.com/charity/millom-network-centre-limited