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City of Cincinnati investigating after $137,000 meant for contractor sent to scammer


A memo from Cincinnati City Manager Paula Boggs Meuthing contains details of fraudulent activity that no taxpayer wants to see."This is really an attack on the taxpayers of Cincinnati," cybersecurity expert Dave Hatter said.Issued Wednesday, the memo said a $137,000 payment that was supposed to go to a Dept. of Transportation and Engineering contractor went to a scammer instead.It happened when someone impersonating the contractor's office manager sent a message asking city workers to update the company's electronic fund transfer information. As a result, a $137,000 payment went to the con artist and not the contractor."This kind of thing is a huge problem," Hatter said.WLWT investigator Todd Dykes shared the memo with Hatter, who works for a firm called Intrust IT.Hatter also oversees public money as the mayor of Fort Wright in Kenton County.While he doesn't know for sure what happened, Hatter has a hunch."What Cincinnati put out — there's not enough information there to say for sure this is what's happened, but. ... I can almost guarantee you they probably got an email from the vendor requesting a payment. The vendor's accounts had been broken into. There was an imposter impersonating the vendor," Hatter said.That appears to be how the scam unfolded based on the city manager's memo, although the manager's office declined to talk about it.The memo said the city does about 24,000 electronic fund transfers a year, making what happened in this case "extremely rare.""With 24,000 a year, and also people don't realize this as a thing, I could see how Cincinnati would easily not catch this," Hatter said. "In my opinion, based on what I know so far ... they are just the unfortunate dupes that sent money to the wrong place because they wouldn't know otherwise, you know."It's not clear if the legitimate contractor will be made whole and receive the $137,000. All the city manager's memo said is police are now involved and the city is trying to recover the money.

A memo from Cincinnati City Manager Paula Boggs Meuthing contains details of fraudulent activity that no taxpayer wants to see.

"This is really an attack on the taxpayers of Cincinnati," cybersecurity expert Dave Hatter said.

Issued Wednesday, the memo said a $137,000 payment that was supposed to go to a Dept. of Transportation and Engineering contractor went to a scammer instead.

It happened when someone impersonating the contractor's office manager sent a message asking city workers to update the company's electronic fund transfer information. As a result, a $137,000 payment went to the con artist and not the contractor.

"This kind of thing is a huge problem," Hatter said.

WLWT investigator Todd Dykes shared the memo with Hatter, who works for a firm called Intrust IT.

Hatter also oversees public money as the mayor of Fort Wright in Kenton County.

While he doesn't know for sure what happened, Hatter has a hunch.

"What Cincinnati put out — there's not enough information there to say for sure this is what's happened, but. ... I can almost guarantee you they probably got an email from the vendor requesting a payment. The vendor's accounts had been broken into. There was an imposter impersonating the vendor," Hatter said.

That appears to be how the scam unfolded based on the city manager's memo, although the manager's office declined to talk about it.

The memo said the city does about 24,000 electronic fund transfers a year, making what happened in this case "extremely rare."

"With 24,000 a year, and also people don't realize this as a thing, I could see how Cincinnati would easily not catch this," Hatter said. "In my opinion, based on what I know so far ... they are just the unfortunate dupes that sent money to the wrong place because they wouldn't know otherwise, you know."

It's not clear if the legitimate contractor will be made whole and receive the $137,000. All the city manager's memo said is police are now involved and the city is trying to recover the money.


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