Cyber hacker targets counselling service

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THE details of thousands of clients who use a service for vulnerable people have been lost, because of cruel cyberscammers.

Hastings and Rother Counselling Service, based in Cambridge Gardens, also had almost a week of emails deleted after its account was hacked into this week.

Alison Rickard, deputy manager, stressed no personal details of clients were stored on the lost data, but addresses of counsellors and organisations the charity deals are highly likely to have been.

She said: “It has been chaos this week. Our Yahoo account was hijacked on Monday evening. We could not even get into it with our password.

“All of our contacts were cleared out after the hoax email was sent out.

“It said our manager Dave Burke was in Spain, had been robbed of his money and passport and needed help.

“People believe that sort of stuff, as we have had lots of people who have received this email ringing up asking if he is okay. They can really be taken in by these emails.

“We do not know who sent it or where it came from. People who got it said the English used was not terribly good, so we think it may have come from abroad.”

The charity’s Yahoo account has been restored.

But the organisation, which offers counselling to those suffering from depression and other mental illness, and works with counsellors in 1066 Country, has now been left with the painful task of sifting through its paperwork to try and restore its list of contacts.

Ms Rickard said: “We see more than 100 clients a week here and we are literally talking about thousands of contacts we have lost. We do training here so anyone who was interested in this would be in our contacts list, as well as other organisations, counsellors and health professionals.

“There will be people’s addresses and phone numbers, but not those of clients, as they are protected and we do not do very much work with them by email.”

Managers at the charity have informed the police about the scam.