DICKSON, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dickson County taxpayers are out close to $58,000 after criminals used an email to siphon thousands out of county coffers.
Police said it’s an elaborate crime that’s also hard to solve.
Dickson County Mayor Bob Rial told News 2 it all started April 15 with an email that appeared it came from him.
According to police, Dickson County Finance Director Donald Hall reportedly received the email that appeared to be from Rial requesting a wire transfer of $38,650 for a consulting project.
According to the mayor, the finance director emailed him back to verify the wire transfer.
That’s when someone pretending to be Rial responded, authorizing the transaction.
The crime wasn’t discovered until the next day when the two men spoke and the topic of the wire transfer came up.
“He thought I was kidding and I said, ‘I am serious. Don’t know what you are talking about,’” explained Rial.
According to investigators, the case led to a Chase bank account in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the account was quickly closed.
“He is sick about it, he takes good care of our tax dollars, you work hard to do the right thing and a criminal works,” said Rial.
Though he would not specify, the mayor told News 2 the theft has prompted a change in how they conduct these types of transactions in the future.
According to Dickson police, a comparable crime took place against the Dickson County school system when an email led to approximately $19,000 being taken from the school system’s bank account.
News 2 spoke with Dickson County Director of Schools Dr. Danny Weeks, who said someone created a fake email account to look like his and an email was sent to the finance director when he was out of town.
“It was sent to the finance director and she followed all the appropriate procedures. She did what she was suppose to do. It all appeared legit,” Weeks said.
“I’m not sure what the project was; we are doing a lot of construction and it could have been for consulting. We are reviewing our protocols for purchasing, but I want to look out our technology options, talk to our director of technology and our network administrator,” he added, saying it is rare he would send a communication like that in real life.
Police are currently working both cases.
An investigator told News 2 operations like this are very difficult to crack and often lead to dead ends in countries overseas.
Police advise people to be vigilant, ask questions, and scrutinize the email and email address.