The family of tragic cross-Channel swimmer Susan Taylor are "disappointed and upset" after a six-figure donation for the fundraiser's charity efforts turned out to be a hoax.
Mrs Taylor (34) collapsed last Sunday just one mile from the French coast as she swam under the guidance of the Channel Swimming Association, which authorises attempts.
She was pulled from the water on to a support boat by her brother David, a paramedic, who battled to save her life before she was taken to hospital in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer, where she was later pronounced dead.
Her death prompted thousands of people to donate to Mrs Taylor's two fundraising pages in support of Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People and Diabetes UK.
However, it has now emerged one donation to Rainbows, of £150,000, was a fake – which the charity described as an "appalling act at such a tragic and emotional time". It is believed a similar hoax pledge was also made to Diabetes UK.
In a statement, Mrs Taylor's family said: "The family were obviously delighted when news of a donation pledge of £300,000 to the two charities was announced. Unfortunately, it would appear that this pledge was bogus since the funds have failed to materialise in the charities' accounts.
"The family wish to emphasise that they are extremely grateful for the support of members of the public and the generosity they have shown in supporting Susan's legacy."
Legitimate donations to Mrs Taylor's fundraising pages – at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/createaripple – have soared to more than £70,000 in the days since her death.
Comedian David Walliams – who swam the Channel in 2006 – is believed to have pledged £1,000 after a donation was made under the name of the Little Britain star with the message: "Sending all my love to Susan's family and friends."