A CHARITY champion in South Tyneside has been targeted by online fraudsters who hacked into her e-mail address and sent out a plea for cash.
The e-mail – purporting to be from Relay for Life organiser Ann Walsh – claimed she had been mugged while on holiday in Turkey, was trapped in the country and needed 2,250 Euros to get home.
Mrs Walsh says she has been ‘inundated’ with calls and texts from friends and family after the fake message – titled ‘Emergency’ – was sent out to hundreds of people on her mailing list on yesterday.
The Gazette was among the recepients.
It claimed Mrs Walsh and her family, from East Boldon, had their cash, credit cards and mobile phones stolen while in Istanbul and needed people to send cash so they could settle hotel bills before flying back to the UK.
But Mrs Walsh was still in South Tyneside, having only just completed the eighth annual Relay for Life event to boost the fight against cancer.
The fundraiser – held at Monkton Stadium, Jarrow on Saturday and Sunday – saw 58 cancer survivors complete a 400m course alongside friends and family in aid of Cancer Research UK.
More than £28,000 has already been donated, with organiser Mrs Walsh well on her way to hitting her £50,000 target.
Mrs Walsh fears that some concerned friends and contacts may be taken in by the e-mail – and even attempt to reply and potentially end up supplying bank or credit card deals.
She also fears that some may believe she was using the scam to bolster funds for her charity.
The 55-year-old, a PE teacher at Epinay School in Jarrow, spent yesterday morning fielding calls.
Mrs Walsh said: “I have about 600 to 700 people on my mailing list and this was sent out to them all, claiming to be from me.
“I don’t know how this happened or why people do things like this.
“It is very annoying. The worrying thing for me is that someone might think this is a new way for me to raise money for my charity. I have no idea how it happened.
“I have been inundated with messages.”
Mrs Walsh says she is considering asking the police to investigate how the e-mail was sent from her personal address.