Saskatoon (August 16, 2019) – The City of Saskatoon has paid $1.04 million to a fraudster after falling for an identity theft scheme. City manager Jeff Jorgenson told media on August 15 that the city is now focusing on the recovery of the taxpayer’s money.
The city official explains that a fraudster contacted the city via email impersonating the chief financial officer of a local construction company with whom the city has contracts with. In the email, he asked to change the company’s banking information. A request the city complied with without performing any further verification from the business partner. As a result, the next regular payment, over $1.04 million, which was intended for the construction company went straight to the fraudster’s account.
The city recognized the scam and notified the authorities on August 12. Saskatoon Police Service warned the public on August 13 in general of scams who target finance and human resources professionals without mentioning the city’s incident.
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The city works together with the banks and the police on the recovery of the funds. Although, the city is aware that there is no guarantee for it to work. Furthermore, internal and external experts are now checking the city’s financial processes and controls to make sure a similar fraudulent attack won’t be possible again.
The fraud investigation is ongoing. Jorgenson said there will be an HR internal investigation as well, CBC reported.