Charity chief is scam target

Scam victim John Gurhy, from Abram
Scam victim John Gurhy, from Abram

ANOTHER Wigan charity chief has been targeted in a high-tech scam which tries to fleece all the victims’ e-mail contacts.

Hundreds of friends, family and business contacts of disabled John Guhry were sent a rogue message to their computers and phones.

Claiming to be from the Abram-based chairman of Ataxia North West, it said he was trapped in Madrid after losing his wallet and having his passport confiscated because he couldn’t pay bills.

The e-mail then requests the contact to send him 2,800 euros which would of course go to the scammer instead.

All the while the 56-year-old grandad, whose condition leaves him with balance and speech problems, was at his home in Warrington Road.

The ruse bears a chillingly similar resemblance to another one reported in the Wigan Evening Post in February last year when hundreds of people and organisations were e-mailed by someone masquerading as Anne Fairhurst, secretary of Wigan and District Society for the Blind.

The brief, but alarming message, claimed that she has been mugged while on holiday in Spain and needed money wiring to her.

Both victims found themselves fielding a lot of telephone calls from contacts subsequently.

Mr Guhry said today: “This is most annoying. To think that some unscrupulous criminal wants to sully the name of my charity and take advantage of my friends, relatives and contacts all over the world is very upsetting.

“I would hope that people who received the e-mail would recognise from the writing style, if nothing else, that it wasn’t me asking for money.”

Mr Guhry said that he had been receiving numerous e-mails in recent weeks which claimed to be from BT and asking for further personal details. They had Russian writing at the bottom so a suspcious reciptient spiked them.

However yesterday he received another, more plausible one, opened it up and it immediately every e-mail he had ever sent vanished. His sister was the first to ring to raise the alarm.

A BT spokeswoman said: “Our advice is not to respond to e-mails unless you are completely certain they are genuine. Always be sure to have the latest guards and protections on your computer too.

“Under normal circumstances we would not be asking for extra personal details online in any case. If anyone has any suspicions about calls or e-mails contact our free customer services number 0800 800150.”