A jazz centre, headed up by Westcliff musician Digby Fairweather, was targeted by an online fraudster, it has been revealed.

Hackers accessed an account belonging to the Southend-based Jazz Centre UK and stole £10,000.

Fortunately, the charity had its money refunded by the bank, but Mr Fairweather said people must be vigilant to rising cyber crime.

He said: “The Jazz Centre UK online account had two payees set up at the time for small sums. Someone hacked into the account and moved £4,950 twice in a day into these accounts. He then rang both firms saying he was from the jazz centre and the sums had been transferred by mistake and that we owed the money to someone else.

“He asked them to pay it back and then gave them his own account number.”

Mr Fairweather added: “It was virtually all the Jazz centre UK funds but after an inquiry it was the fault of the bank and all the money was refunded - apart from £216.

“It made us very wary of online banking. It could have left us in a great deal of trouble.”

The incident, which happened in October, came to light after it was raised in Parliament by Southend West MP Sir David Amess. During a debate on cyber security, Sir David questioned the Minister for Security, Ben Wallace.

He said: “The Jazz Centre UK, a UK-wide charity with its headquarters in Southend -yet another reason why Southend should be a city - recently had £10,000 hacked from its account.

“Will my right hon. Friend reassure us on what further safeguards can be put in place for vulnerable charities to protect them from cyber-crime?”

Mr Wallace replied: “I am grateful to my hon. Friend. If he writes to me with the details of that case, I will be happy to look into it for him. I am particularly concerned because where something is hacked, it is usually called a ‘cyber-enabled’ crime, which often gets a reimbursement from financial institutions. In general, we have invested in the National Cyber Security Centre in order to stop that type of fraud. It is out there, busy advising many organisations about what they can do to make themselves safer online.”