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NI small business owner reaches out for help after sophisticated scam costs him £11,000

A Northern Ireland small business owner has reached out to the public for help after he was targeted with a sophisticated scam and was conned out of £11,000.

Devastated Michael Morris, owner of The Bearded Candle Makers, shared the story with His social media followers of how he was swindled out of thousands of pounds needed to pay bills, after receiving a letter and follow-up in person visits from the scammer,

Michael explains on his GoFundMe page:

"We've set this up at the kind request of our family and friends to help us through a pretty difficult time. We've been victims to an horrendous scam through the business. It has left us in a terrible situation, and we are unsure if we can get through it financially.

"It started when I filled out what I thought was a survey from the Mourne, Newry and Down council. It was a business survey to link local businesses together. It asked who my accountant was, the internet provider, our stationary supplier etc. Then followed with local suggestions to use instead. I filled it out and sent it back in the supplied envelope.

"Then a guy supposedly from 'our' accountancy firm called out to the studio, and that's when it began. He introduced himself, and I mistakenly said it was nice to meet him in person, as I had only dealt with him over the phone and via email before - he was using the name of an actual person from the firm. He had come out to help me with my VAT returns, which he was able help with - he must have had training or experience with accounts / taxes / VAT. He was charming, friendly and knowledgeable.

"During these times he was supposed to be setting up payments that would pay bills, taxes, rent, etc - but these were not being paid. He was directing the money into crypto accounts, which the police have told us is untraceable and won't be recovered. The amount stolen is in the region of £11,000 - but because almost all of that was tax payments, he has essentially stolen double that, because the tax still has to be paid."

Michael continued:

"Now we're working our socks off to get through this, running workshops, pushing offers, going to markets and doing all we can, but it is a huge amount to get back. What has made it worse is that our material costs are spiralling out of control. In the current the economic backdrop we don't think we can survive without asking for help.

"I love my business; I love every scent I've made. I love every connection I've made. I have made incredible friends through the business. I have gotten to work with incredible people, and I have always felt that what we have is more than a candle business.

"So, that's my story. I don't want my candle journey to end here. If you can help in any tiny way, be it a quid, a like, a follow or pat on the back - that would be awesome."

You can help Michael and his business by donating at his GoFundMe page (CLICK HERE). At time of publishing the generous Northern Ireland public have donated over £8,000.

You can also offer your support to Michael by visiting The Bearded Candle Makers website and placing an order (CLICK HERE). Michael's candles are amazing and would make beautiful gifts for Christmas!


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