Card scammers land charity with €10k bank charge bill

A charity supporting children with severe, life-limiting conditions is facing a minimum €10,000 bank charge after being targeted by an online scam.

The Jack and Jill Foundation has been told to pay the expense instead of using the money to help vulnerable children, despite the fact it had nothing to do with the transactions.

Spokeswoman Carmel Doyle told the Irish Examiner that, in a two-month period between April and May, the charity was unknowingly used as a “test website” by an international skimming gang.

As with other skimming systems, the criminals were able to access random individuals’ bank card details. The gang then used this information to make various donations to the Jack and Jill Foundation, among other groups, to confirm the cards were active, before taking large amounts of money from the cardholders.

When the foundation uncovered the situation after recording over €160,000 of unusual donations, ranging in price from 2c to €3,000, they immediately refunded the individuals affected.

However, because the scam involved real transactions, financial services which allowed the money transfers have insisted the charity must pay all related bank fees — a figure which the charity said is a “minimum” of €10,000.

“That money would give 625 hours of respite care to families and children,” said Ms Doyle.

“That’s about two months help for one fam-ily. For banks, €10,000 is nothing, it’s a small amount of money. But for our families it can have a long-lasting affect.”

The banks’ stance is understood to be due to the fact that, while affected, main-street bank branches are trying to resolve the issue, their merchant service sections — which authorise the transactions — say the fees must be paid.

The Jack and Jill Foundation has said AIB Naas in Co Kildare, which holds the charity’s main bank account, has been working on behalf of the group to resolve the issue.

However, there has been little progress in conv-incing AIB’s merchant services section — the financial group which is owed the most money as a result of the scam — to waive or significantly cut the fees.

The foundation said its website remains secure and that no one who donated via the site has been hit by the scam.

The majority of people affected were from outside Ireland, with cards as far away as Italy, Venezuela, Bolivia, and South Korea targeted by the gang.

*Contact the foundation at info@jackandjill.ie or 045 894 538.

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