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Fraudsters steal thousands from fundraising account of Ipswich homeless charity Emmaus

PUBLISHED: 16:53 10 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 10 November 2017

Claire Staddon (far left) with some of her volunteers at Emmaus.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Claire Staddon (far left) with some of her volunteers at Emmaus. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A charity which supports homeless people in Ipswich has been hit by fraudsters who made away with £8,500 from its fundraising bank account.

Emmaus at the Dales manager Claire Staddon.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNEmmaus at the Dales manager Claire Staddon. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Claire Staddon, operations manager for Emmaus Suffolk, a charity which provides education, training and work opportunities for homeless people, was shocked to discover the fraud on Tuesday.

The charity runs a shop on Dales Road in Ipswich, formally the Dales pub, and has two separate bank accounts - one for the shop’s takings and one for fundraising towards big community projects.

It was discovered that thieves had stolen the charity’s card details online, then used it to buy goods online, such as trainers and clothes.

Mrs Staddon said there had been around 20 unauthorised payments on the account.

Work in the disabled access garden at Emmaus is due to start soon. Manager Claire Staddon.Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNWork in the disabled access garden at Emmaus is due to start soon. Manager Claire Staddon.Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Thankfully we have contacted the bank and they have cancelled the card for us,” she said.

“They will also agreed to reimburse the money.

“The money has started going out in August, there were about 20 transactions.

“There were items bought from Sports Direct and other companies - they have spent thousands.
“I was supposedly buying Nike trainers in Amsterdam on Monday.

“We have two separate accounts, daily takings from the shop in one account and money from fundraising activities in a second account.

“Part of our protection and security is that I can’t access that account and only check it quarterly so I hadn’t seen that the money had been taken.”

Mrs Staddon contacted the bank and went through the transaction history, identifying each of the cases of fraud.

She said the missing money had thankfully not impeded its next big project, to transform the Dale pub’s derelict beer garden into a wildlife garden.

“It is a very exciting project that will make a massive difference to people,” she said.

“Because the bank have agreed to pay back the money we are now back on track. But is was not a pleasant few days we have had.”

Mrs Staddon added that as the charity uses a standard business bank account, she does not know whether the fraudsters realised they were stealing from a charity.

A spokesman for Action Fraud said they were continuing to investigate the case.

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