Wednesday 16 January 2019

Scammers clear out terminally ill boy's dream holiday fund

Ethan McClean (9)
Ethan McClean (9)

Donna Deeney

A dream holiday for a terminally ill little boy will go ahead - despite heartless scammers clearing out his Co Antrim family's saving account containing hundreds of pounds.

Ethan McClean (9) was diagnosed with life-limiting genetic condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which means everyday things other boys his age take for granted are impossible for him.

But Ethan's disability doesn't deter him from enjoying his passion for the Belfast Giants - he hasn't missed one of their ice hockey games in two years.

His family decided a trip to Canada to see a National Hockey League match would be a dream come true for him.

However, Ethan's mother Yvette was horrified when she checked her bank account after she was contacted by her bank to say there had been unusual activity to find hundreds of pounds had been stolen.

The Ballymena woman said despite losing everything the family are determined Ethan won't miss out, but warned others of how easy scammers can access bank accounts.

Mrs McClean said: "The bank still doesn't know how this scammer was able to access my account but within hours they took every penny from it.

"It wasn't in one single withdrawal - there were a number of withdrawals for hundreds of pounds from Saturday evening to Sunday morning which was when the bank contacted me.

"I was sick to my stomach when I looked at my balance and saw how much they had taken. Even while I was on the phone to the bank they tried to make another withdrawal but the bank was able to block that at least.

"This was money we were saving to take Ethan to Canada because he is such a big fan of ice hockey and it would have been his trip of a lifetime because he would have seen all the biggest teams play in the National Hockey League.

"Because Ethan has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy any trip needs to be planned meticulously and costs a lot and we were saving hard so everything could be perfect for him.

"We are determined, though, that Ethan won't miss out because of these scammers. We will think of something to make sure he isn't disappointed.

"Ethan gets so much pleasure out of watching ice hockey.

"He can join in with the rest of the fans watching the Belfast Giants, who really have taken him under their wings.

"He is able to shout at the top of his voice from his wheelchair and release so much pent up energy, which is why this trip was so ideal."

Mrs McClean's bank is still investigating the circumstances of how the thieves were able to access her account, but she has warned others to be vigilant.

She continued: "We are very mindful of protecting ourselves from internet fraud and scammers and yet they were still able to get into our account.

"The bank is unable to tell me how they managed it, whether my card was cloned or there was a skimming device on an ATM, but I do know I didn't use my card during January so this might have been done in December.

"People need to be on their guard at all times, these thieves will try everything they can to steal your money."

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