| 15.3°C Dublin

Fraud gang raids wheelchair girl's special bank fund

FRAUDSTERS took money from the account of a wheelchair bound six-year-old girl to pay for phone credit.

Katie Byrne has cerebral palsy and is looking to raise €60,000 to have an operation which will see her getting out of her wheelchair and walking on her own.

But nearly €300 was fraudulently taken from her fundraising to pay two mobile phone direct debits.

"It's shocking to think that someone would stoop so low," Antoinette McLoughlin, Katie's mother, told the Herald.

She believes that fraudsters found the account details during fundraising activities.

When the issue was raised with the Bank of Ireland, the money was returned to the account.

The Herald understands that the bank was refunded by the mobile phone companies.

Mr Byrne and Ms McLoughlin closed the account and opened a replacement to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Ms McLoughlin was not given any information about who set up the direct debit, but hopes they aren't let off.

"We hope that the mobile phone companies pursue the person or people who set up the account," she told the Herald. "If this person gets away with it now, the worry is that someone's (bank) account could be entirely drained.

"It's hard enough to raise money as it is. But taking money from a cause like this takes the lowest of the low," she added.



She also warned others raising money to be extra vigilant of fraudulent transactions.

According to Bank of Ireland, the mobile phone companies are responsible for any direct debit they call.

"Under the current rules of the DD scheme the onus is on the beneficiary to establish the validity of the originator," they said. Katie's parents have organised a series of fundraising event and have just over €12,000 set aside for Katie's operation.

If the fund-raising is successful, Katie will travel to St Louis, Missouri, in the US to undergo a four-hour Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy operation and an intensive physiotherapy schedule.

This will see hopefully see her walk independently.

The full €60,000 will be needed by the end of September for Katie to have her operation the following month.Visit KatiesDreamToWalk.com for more information.