A DAD has been left struggling to support his family after computer hackers tried to empty his bank account.
Former serviceman Gary Humphries, from Castletown, was targeted twice in a matter of hours by cyber criminals, who illegally accessed his online PayPal account.
After stealing hundreds of pounds, they returned a second time, attempting to withdraw the remaining funds.
The theft left the 47-year-old almost broke, forcing him to borrow money from a relation to pay bills and support his wife and three-children, including nine-year-old Kieron, who has Down’s syndrome.
“Thankfully, they didn’t get away with what was left in the account,” he said. “But it was a complete shock when we found out the money was gone.
“The first I knew about it was when I checked to see if my wages had gone in.
“When I saw there was only a hundred and odd pounds in, I rang the bank straight away and they told me there was a withdrawal through PayPal, which I knew nothing about.”
To set up a Paypal account, users register their bank or card details and when they make online purchases they give their PayPal details on websites instead of their personal information.
Gary, a communications technician, has been promised a refund from PayPal. He said the theft of the £493 left him and wife Allison, 34, with barely enough money to buy a few family essentials.
“We had to borrow money off a family member to get us by until I was paid again.”
Gary, who served in the first Gulf War during his 20 years in the RAF as an avionics technician, has been left mystified by the scam and has urged other computer users to take care when making shopping online.
“They tried to draw two amounts of cash from PayPal, using two names I’d never heard of,” he said. “I had no idea who these people were. In fact, the last time I used PayPal was September to send e-cheques to buy electronic equipment.
“I’ve no idea why they picked on me. It seems completely random.”
Today, PayPal apologised for the theft and offered Mr Humphries £50 compensation as well as the refund.
A spokeswoman said: “As a responsible online payment provider, PayPal takes internet fraud extremely seriously and carries out rigorous checks of its systems to ensure customers’ accounts and their personal details are secure and protected.
“To report unauthorized transactions customers have the option to log into their PayPal account and opt to dispute a transaction or visit PayPal’s website, www.paypal.co.uk, and click on its ‘Safety Advice’ page.
“Any customer that is worried that they have been a victim of a scam or has received spoof emails from someone purporting to be PayPal should contact PayPal immediately and can forward the email to PayPal at email@example.com.” Twitter: @sunderlandecho