HACKED FIRM’S DRAG­ONS BACK FOR WORLD CUP:

COM­PANY LOST £18,000 BUT FOUNDER SAYS SHE COULDN’T LET DOWN ALL THOSE WHO HELPED

Bangor Mail - - Front Page - Bran­wen Jones

ASMALL toy com­pany on An­gle­sey that lost £18,000 in a hack­ing scam, are rein­tro­duc­ing their Welsh-speak­ing toy Draigi for the Rugby World Cup this year.

Si-Lwli Cymru is well-known for cre­at­ing the “world’s first Welsh singing toy”, and is pop­u­lar with Welsh-speak­ing chil­dren across Wales and fur­ther afield.

In June of this year how­ever, the busi­ness was struck by fi­nan­cial hard­ship af­ter be­ing scammed through a “so­phis­ti­cated” fraud.

Its founders, Awena and Baron Walk­den from Me­nai Bridge, fell vic­tims to an on­line hacker that in­ter­cepted and al­tered an email they sent for an or­der to a com­pany in China – the only com­pany able to cre­ate the com­pany’s singing toys, Draigi and Seren Swynol.

It was only af­ter Awena trans­ferred the £18,000 fee for an or­der of Draigi that she re­alised the re­quest for pay­ment was a scam.

The man­u­fac­tur­ers in China had not re­ceived their fee and there­fore, the com­pany had to pay an ad­di­tional £18,000 to re­lease the toys from the site.

Awena de­scribed the ex­pe­ri­ence as “puzzling” and “up­set­ting”, and had to re­mort­gage her house to pay for the ex­tra money.

At the time, she said: “It is a heart­break­ing sit­u­a­tion and still feels re­ally raw.

“A lot of peo­ple feel that it’s not just an at­tack on us, but an at­tack on the Welsh lan­guage and Welsh speak­ing chil­dren.”

Awena and her hus­band de­cided to take a break from the busi­ness to fo­cus on their new­born child, and were un­cer­tain about Si-Lwli Cymru’s fu­ture.

“Af­ter the hack­ing scam, me and my hus­band felt like we had lost all mo­ti­va­tion,” Awena ex­plained.

“But, we had time to re­flect and re­alised that we did want this.

“The re­sponse we have re­ceived from so many has also been heart­warm­ing. Even peo­ple that don’t have chil­dren reached out to us.”

One cus­tomer de­cided to start a crowd fund­ing page. So far, £1,600 has been raised of a £18,000 tar­get.

Awena said: “We were so grate­ful to ev­ery­one that took part, shared and con­trib­uted to the fund­ing.

“For that rea­son, we felt that we couldn’t let them down, and de­cided to carry on with the busi­ness.”

In cel­e­bra­tion of the Wales rugby team’s on-going suc­cess in the World Cup, Awena has de­cided to re-sell their dragon toy called Draigi (pic­tured) on their web­site.

The dragon is known for singing Welsh-lan­guage clas­sics, such as Calon Lan, Sos­ban Fach, Ar Hyd y Nos, and Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, which can of­ten be heard sung by Welsh crowds dur­ing rugby matches.

Awena ex­plained: “We just felt it was right to sell the drag­ons now, not only for the World Cup, but to show our ex­ist­ing and new cus­tomers that we are still here for them.

“Draigi is pop­u­lar with many, not just with chil­dren. I’ve had non-Welsh speak­ing par­ents con­tact­ing me and telling me the drag­ons have helped them learn Welsh.

“In the past, we’ve also sold the drag­ons for peo­ple bat­tling with de­men­tia. The songs of­ten re­mind them of a time in the past, and puts them more at ease.

“The dragon toys have also helped chil­dren and young adults with dis­abil­i­ties, and brings them en­joy­ment.

“We’ve re­alised that these toys that pro­duce mu­sic has a pro­found ef­fect on so many, not just chil­dren.”

Awena and her hus­band also in­tend to cre­ate a long-term plan for their com­pany, in­clud­ing de­sign­ing same styled toys but with dif­fer­ent Welsh songs.

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