A frauster using fake cheques has stolen £3,400 from the Calne Music and Arts Festival’s charity account with Lloyds Bank in Calne.

Members of the festival’s society were shocked to hear about the stolen money, withdrawn in the last couple of days, at a meeting last night.

President Carole Browne said the bank had promised to repay the money.

She said: “The money, which is more than half our budget for what we pay performers, has been taken out of our account and it was only thanks to the sharpness of one of the tellers in the bank when the cheque was presented that we found out.

“Someone has actually forged the cheques, they are not cheques that the bank has issued, it’s not a cheque book that has been stolen.

“Someone has copied a Calne Music and Arts cheque and then they have written it to themselves, signed it and presented it to the bank.”

The Calne Music and Arts Festival, which is a registered charity and operates on limited funding, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

As a charity it needs two people to sign its cheques before they can be cashed.

Chairman Glenis Ansell said: “It was quite a shock, especially as it’s cheques and that’s not the sort of fraud you would expect. It’s frightening and it’s quite upsetting, the fact that people would take money from a charity.

“We struggle to get along and provide something for the town and it ends up like this. It means that in the short term our bank account is frozen while it’s investigated and that make life difficult for us.”