Wednesday 13th September, 2017
Chester Zoo has fallen victim to a £1.2m scam after receiving an email claiming to be from the contractor building its new safari experience informing them their bank details had changed.
The email purporting to be from construction company Laing O'Rourke's finance team was produced in the company's headed paper and had forged signatures.
The money was paid into a new account related to a closed tapas restaurant owned by one of the scammers, instead of paying the money to Laing O'Rourke.
Within hours of the invoice being paid, the money had been distributed to 28 different bank accounts, Bristol Crown Court heard.
The restaurant owner pleaded guilty to possessing £1.26million of criminal property and has been given a suspended prison sentence along with three co-defendants. He used a premium bank account which allowed him to transfer sums of £20,000 at a time.
The Telegraph reported that the alarm was raised the next day when it was realised the money had not arrived in Laing O'Rourke's bank account.
Chester Zoo is one of UK’s most popular zoos, and one of the top 15 in the world and is also a highly respected centre for global conservation and research.