The Reading-based Laurel Park FC says it has had to suspend all planned spending, and the treasurer has resigned, after he was duped into making a series of payments to what he thought were companies undertaking work for the club. The scam started when he received what looked like a routine email from the chairman asking him to pay £7,000 to a supplier from the club’s Barclays account.
He had expected the request as the club, which operates 27 youth teams from playing fields on the edge of the town, was looking to spend money on its facilities. Only after he had made four payments – amounting to in excess of £28,000 into other Barclays accounts – did it emerge that the emails he’d received were false, and had come from a mocked-up lookalike account.
Barclays has washed its hands of the matter and refused to cover the losses, bar the £8.90 it says it was able to recover. The police have been similarly uninterested.
The club’s secretary says the episode has been devastating for those involved. He says the unnamed treasurer has even offered to sell his house to allow him to repay the club, although they are hoping they won’t have to take him up on the offer.
The case will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who acts as a treasurer for a club or charity. “We rely on volunteers to manage the day-to-day running, and our treasurer was just that – a volunteer doing his best”.