School devastated after it's conned out of £19,000 by scammers

Parents who raised almost £19,000 for their children's school in Sussex have had the money stolen by internet fraudsters.

The cash was to pay for a new playground at Buckingham Park Primary in Shoreham.

However online hackers intercepted an email and diverted the money to an overseas account.

It was a legitimate invoice that we were asked to pay. And while we were in the process of going through an email thread to make that payment, our emails were intercepted by somebody who we don't know. They [the fraudsters] then gave us fraudulent bank details to make the payment to."

JODIE DYER, Chairperson, Buckingham Events

The money raised was going to go towards rebuilding the school's playground, which was being revamped for the first time in 11 years.

The parent-led charity Buckingham Events had raised around £50,000 for the school in total.

One section of the playground has been rebuilt.

However it was while the charity was paying for some of that work that it was hit with the £19,000 fraud.

We feel violated by what's happened. Unfortunately this level of crime has become so sophisticated and because it is cyber crime, it is so detached. So those people behind this have no emotional attachment to our situation at all."

HELEN COOK, School fundraiser

The playground money had taken three years to raise through scores of events. The children themselves helping through things like ice cream sales.

Police have told the fundraisers that the stolen money has been transferred abroad, with little hope of getting it back.

An appeal has been launched to try to replace the stolen funds.

Some schools across the region now depend on fundraising, not just for luxuries but for essentials.

Parents and fundraisers say the criminals who carried out this fraud have deprived the children of the play facilities they need.

  • Watch Malcolm Shaw's report below