An Aberdeen charity founder has been left “disheartened” after callous cyber criminals hacked into the group’s bank account and stole almost £900.
The crooks targeted the Miss (Miscarriage Information Support Service) organisation, which Abi Clarke set up after losing her baby and deciding to help others.
Mrs Clarke was shocked when she went through statements at the weekend and noticed numerous suspicious transactions had taken place late last week.
It soon emerged that criminals had wiped out about £860 on Saturday night, and she said they launched another brazen attempt the following day.
On that occasion, the hackers tried to swipe £890 – but she had made sure to cancel the account by then.
Mrs Clarke raised suspicions that the charity was targeted because of a recent lottery grant of £10,000, which was highlighted at Holyrood and in the media.
She said the timing of the theft was “very coincidental” and it “may be linked” to the high-profile grant, which was awarded to train more volunteers.
Mrs Clarke said: “The money taken out of the account said it was for seven Facebook adverts that we hadn’t purchased.
“It came to around £870 – which is a ridiculous amount.
“When I found out, I was angry – angry that someone had stolen from the charity.
“It is very personal to me, and it is something very close to the heart.
“The fact that someone thinks it is OK to steal from a charity is disheartening, especially since we’re such a young charity who rely on funding.
“We had a lot of things planned out and it might be a bit difficult to do it all now without this money.”
Mrs Clarke is now appealing for other charities to be on their guard against predatory online criminals.
She added: “People need to be aware of cyber crime and how common it is. When I first found out, I wasn’t sure what to do.”
Miss was formed in 2017, and became a registered charity earlier this year.
It helps scores of women through monthly meet-ups, a 24-hour phone service and fundraising events.
The charity only recently had its annual meeting and had formed plans to have a memory box for parents as well as further training for staff.
But the crime will now have a “significant impact” on the aims, and the charity is reviewing its plans.
Mrs Clarke is hoping to get the money back, this said it could be a long process.
A police spokesman said: “We are aware of the matter and it is currently being looked into.”