Details on Washington County Wire Transfer Fraud
On June 16, 2016, Washington County became a victim of wire-transfer fraud after initiating two transactions wiring money to criminal bank accounts.
The criminals spoofed county e-mail and assumed the identity of the County Administrator. The mimicked e-mail address, claiming to be from Joshua Schoemann’s i-phone, sent a series of messages back and forth with County Treasurer, Jane Merten.
These messages resulted in wire requests, General Fund balance inquiries, and ultimately wire transfers by the County Treasurer to “State Consultants” in the amounts of $48,560 and $39,300.
The following week the County Treasurer replied to the mimicked e-mail address inquiring the status of the promised backup documentation, this time copying County Finance Department staff.
Upon receiving the copied e-mail thread Finance staff recognized various red flags in the message and completed proper due diligence identifying that the County had been scammed.
The Sheriff’s Department was then promptly contacted, and the criminal investigation began.
Efforts are underway in cooperation with the County’s banking institution to recover any possible funds. Additionally, the County plans to file the appropriate insurance and bond claims following the completion of the criminal investigation.
County Administrator Joshua Schoemann has initiated a review of all processes and procedures by the Finance Director to prevent future errors of this kind.
No further details will be released until the Washington County Sheriff’s Department completes its investigation of this crime.