THE owner of a popular independent shop in Bradford has spoken of her devastation after being “wiped out” by fraudsters.

Ursula Sutcliffe, who runs Plant One on Me on John Street, Bradford city centre, said she felt “sick to her stomach” when she discovered what had happened.

After a difficult year due to the pandemic and only being back open for a matter of weeks, it marks a heart-breaking setback for the business, which sells plants and gifts, and also includes a tea room.

She said someone has managed to get into the account which is used for card takings from the shop, change the details and filter money out.

Ursula said she had noticed that payments were not going into her bank account and thought it might have been a delay due to the Bank Holiday. But when the money still didn't appear, she made the awful discovery.

She found there was nothing in the account and says was told by the mobile payments company that the account had been switched over in the early hours of April 26 – something she had not done.

When she looked at the account, she then saw details had been changed, with a bank account in her name which doesn’t belong to her.

After the huge amount of effort which has been put into the shop, with lots of new stock purchased, Ursula said that "devastated is an understatement”.

She said: “I’m sick to my stomach. It’s been lovely to get back open, we’ve been really excited.

“We’ve just been in survival mode since lockdown. It’s another set back again. It’s just another headache on top of everything else.”

She added: “I just can’t make head nor tail how they’ve managed to do it.

“I can’t get to the bottom of how this has happened. I felt sick this morning. Sometimes with smaller online companies, you can be waiting two-three days, taking into account the Bank Holiday, I expected it to drop Tuesday/Wednesday.”

Alerting people to the news on social media, she wrote: “Unfortunately we can’t take any card payments in the shop until further notice. We have been victims of fraud and they have wiped us out. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it.”

The message was met with a flood of support and Ursula said: “Everyone has been so lovely – it’s what they do in Bradford.”

“It’s just so nice,” she added. “It’s amazing.”          

St Arnold’s Pub Church ministry, based on nearby North Parade, shared the news and said: “Horrible news! This shop is one of Bradford’s joys and the family who run it are wonderful. Please support them in any way you can.”

Ursula has reported the matter to police and the bank, but has urged other business owners to be vigilant and double check. 

“The security checks I had to go through, they've just cancelled me out somehow, I don't know how they've done it," she said.