“An African prince, the son of the recently deposed King Natumbo of Nigeria, needs your help! If you just reply to this email with your bank account information, your mother’s maiden name, and the street you grew up on, we will deposit 75.000.000 USD in your account so you can help him! Please respond now!”
We’ve all received an email similar to the one above. Whether it’s King Natubo or someone else, thieves from Africa have sent out many an email asking for help, wanting you to click on a link so that they can hack your computer, or otherwise trying to get you to give them an opening to steal your information and money.
But no one falls for it because the scams are so obviously sketchy that only someone as dumb and incompetent as a government employee would do so.
Well, that’s exactly what happened: Fresno lost $600k in an African email scam. As The Fresno Bee reports:
The city of Fresno lost about $400,000 [this was later announced as being $600,000] in 2020 after falling victim to an electronic phishing scam, and former Mayor Lee Brand’s administration failed to disclose the loss to the Fresno City Council and taxpayers, The Fresno Bee has confirmed.
[…]The electronic fraud was disguised as an invoice from a subcontractor working on the construction of the new southeast Fresno police station, Councilmember Miguel Arias told The Bee. The invoice included the subcontractor’s letterhead, and only the account numbers were different. A city staffer completed an electronic money transfer, not knowing the invoice was a fake, he said.
In an interview Wednesday, current Mayor Jerry Dyer said two payments were made. Arias said city officials believe the money was sent to an account in Africa.
In a later statement, Dyer said that it was potentially an American thief, not a wayward Nigerian prince, that stole the money.
He also said “There’s nothing more that I cherish as a public official, whether that was my time as police chief or now as the mayor, than earning the trust of this community. Once that trust is violated, I lose credibility as the leader of this organization. So I want to reiterate at no time was there ever an attempt to hide information from the public or to deceive any media outlet on a public records request.”
And that loss of trust isn’t coming only from the fact that the city fell for an email scam, potentially one coming out of Africa, but also that the city covered up the incident, which occurred in 2020.
After losing hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars, the government hid its incompetence rather than explaining the incident to taxpayers and encouraging them to be vigilant in dealing with potential email scams.
So, trust has been lost along with money. Perhaps the city bureaucrats will look closely at the form before they cut a check next time. Then again, it’s the government, so perhaps not.
This story syndicated with permission from Will, Author at Trending Politics
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