Theatre boss falls victim to scammers

Caroline Joynt, from Swinley, whose email system has been hacked
Caroline Joynt, from Swinley, whose email system has been hacked
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A WELL-known Wigan drama teacher has been targeted in an email scam after her account was hacked.

Family and friends of Caroline Joynt, who runs the acclaimed Willpower Youth Theatre, were suspicious when they received an electronic letter supposedly from her, claiming she was in the Philippines, had lost her wallet with all her cash in it, and that she needed money transferring to her.

The bogus email, from her Yahoo account, first sets up the excuse for no-one knowing she was in the Far East and reads: “I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. We had to be in Manila, Philippines for a program.”

Then comes the supposed mishap and appeal: “We misplaced our wallet and cell phone. The wallet contained all the valuables we had.

“Now, our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.

“I will be indeed very grateful if I can get a loan of 2,600 Euros from you.

“This will enable me sort our hotel bills and get my sorry self back home. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return.”

Caroline, of Swinley, said: “I have been in touch with the Fraud Squad to alert them and I did everything Yahoo told me to do and changed my passwords.

“I also discovered that the hackers had created another email address with Hotmail and so any messages in reply were sent there instead, so I was not alerted.

“I was unable to send an email to everyone to let them know, as I got an error message to say there had been unusual activity.

“This couldn’t have happened at a worse time, as it was during half term and I was in rehearsals all day for our latest production Five Children and It.

“It was surprising how many people took it seriously. There was a lot of suspect things – the fact that in this country we do not use the terms ‘cell phone,’ I call my ‘wallet’ a purse and I asked for Euros – a currency not used in the Philippines. Plus a lot of people knew that I was at St Michael’s Church for rehearsals. As I was busy, my brother contacted my friends to let them know and it was put on Facebook.

“But I do know of one of my actor friends who did believe it had hot-wired £1,000. He rang me to check I had got it and I told him it was a scam and luckily he managed to stop the transaction.

“I don’t understand why he didn’t ring me before.

“I have friends in America, who do use the terms cell phone and wallet and one woman was about to send money until I informed her.

“It is atrocious that someone would hack into my account and do that.

“I received a similar email four months ago and I deleted it, but it is surprising how many people do believe it.”

Caroline is busy taking rehearsals for Five Children and It. The show will open at St Michael’s Church, in Swinley, on Wednesday, February 27, running until Sunday, March 3.

For tickets, priced at £5.50 for adults, or £4.50 concessions, call Willpower on 01942 498339.