The parents of a desperately ill boy have been forced to close a special bank account to pay for his life saving medical treatment abroad after it was targeted by thieves.
Three-year-old Carter Buchanan has made two trips to the USA with his mother Emma for pioneering treatment to cure a potentially-fatal condition which leaves him suffering from epileptic seizures every day.
Parents Emma and Robert have spent the last 12 months raising tens of thousands of pounds to pay for his expensive airfares and medical bills.
Now the couple, from Holywood, Co Down, have called in police after two separate attempts to drain the bank account of cash by thieves.
Emma said yesterday: “I can't believe that anyone could be so cruel and heartless as to steal money to pay the medical bills of a young boy who could die at any time.
“We have had to close the account to stop any more attempts to withdraw funds and open a new one but we can't reveal the new account number in case the conmen strike again.
“This means that many genuine people who would want to make a donation have no way of doing so while we still desperately need to raise money to pay for the further treatment that Carter needs.”
The family first realised that something was wrong when mysterious direct debits were set up on the account in an attempt to empty it of funds by withdrawing small amounts at a time.
The direct debits were cancelled but staff at The Northern Bank in Holywood then became suspicious of an attempt to withdraw £4,000 from the Carter charity account.
The thieves tried to withdraw the money by presenting a counter
feit cheque to remove cash from the Carter's Journey of Hope appeal but it was quickly spotted by bank officials.
Carter's family have been trying to raise £180,000 to pay for specialist treatment in Chicago for his rare form of epilepsy which leaves him suffering from up to 16 seizures a day.
Emma added: “Carter is a really sick young boy and for people to steal money which goes to help save his life is the lowest of the low. He needs to go back to the USA for more treatment and we need as much money as possible to pay for that trip.”
The Northern Bank confirmed that an attempt had been made to defraud money from the account. A spokesperson said yesterday: “Bank staff spotted an attempt to draw a counterfeit cheque on a customer's account and steps were taken to prevent this attempted fraud from being successful.”