UK & World News

  • 8 April 2014, 12:46

Dorset School Loses £1m In Phishing Scam

A Dorset school with academy status has fallen victim to an online scam, reportedly losing more than £1m.

St Aldhelm's Academy in Poole was contacted by people pretending to be bank workers and requesting details of the school's bank account.

Staff subsequently passed them on and the criminals withdrew the money, part of a multimillion-pound government loan for rebuilding. 

The Department for Education is demanding the money be paid back at the rate of £75,000 a month, the Bournemouth Daily Echo reported.

The fraud happened last summer but has just come to light. The theft is believed to be linked to organised crime in eastern Europe.

Headteacher Cheryl Heron said in a statement: "St Aldhelm's was subject to an external fraud in July last year.

"The academy acted swiftly, referred the matter immediately to the police and the case is still being investigated.

"The fraud has not impacted on the day-to-day running of the academy or our recent building work, which was completed on schedule.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further while police investigations are ongoing."

A Department for Education spokesperson: "St Aldhelm's has been the victim of a sophisticated serious fraud by a third party.

"The matter was immediately referred to the police and Action Fraud by the academy trust and to the EFA. The matter continues to be investigated by the police."

The school, one of the first to be given academy status from Education Secretary Michael Gove, has had its share of bad luck over the past 12 months, posting England's worst GCSE results for 2012.

Formerly called Rossmore Community College, it was relaunched as Poole's first academy in 2010.

It is sponsored by the Diocese of Salisbury which told Sky News in a statement: "The Diocese can confirm that an academy it sponsors, St Aldhelm's in Poole, was subject to a sophisticated fraud by a third party in July 2013.

"The Academy and both of its sponsors, the Diocese of Salisbury and Bournemouth University, have been working with the Department for Education to ensure that the education of children is unaffected.

"Both the Academy and its sponsors have been co-operating fully with the police investigation and cannot comment further while this continues."

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