Nigerian Scam Victimizes County Treasurer; Victim Arrested
Authorities suspended from job, the treasurer of Alcona County in the U.S. state of Michigan on nine-count charges of robbing public funds during his unwitting association with a 419-e-mail scam.
Thomas Katona, the treasurer of the county served in his job for thirteen years. But now he faces charges of forgery and numerous attempts of embezzlement. If convicted he will have to obey jail sentence of ten years or more for each count of offense.
Officials have accused Katona for instructing eight illegal wire transfers of county funds amounting $186,500 while he was touring London in late 2006. Six of those transfers were to foreign banks having alleged connections with Nigerian fraudsters.
Katona thought he was doing a humanitarian deed by helping a poor Nigerian get back his money in the aftermath of a civil war. He was sure it was not a scam from Nigeria extorting from him $1.25 million in county monies.
As a result of the employee responding to an e-mail pleading for help, he was cheated of all his life savings of $72,000. After this he also sent $1,236,700 from the county funds to the con artist. He came to know it was a scam when he went to meet with the scammers in England.
At the time Katona was initiating the wire transfers, the bank officials warned him several times that they strongly suspected it was a well-canvassed case of fraud scam from Nigeria. Still Katona proceeded ignoring the warnings. The Michigan Department of Treasury conducted a forensic audit of Alcona County records in December 2006 that revealed a shortfall of $1,236,700.
According to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, the Nigerian scam e-mails put forward many promises to the world but make no return for the money people keep on investing. In spite of Katona's best intentions to return the funds the County must bear a financial deficit next year.
There's not much to stop people from emptying their wallets for the scammers, but certainly no one shall excuse or tolerate anyone handing over his county's money. This arrest will hopefully send a message to others.
Related article: Nigerian Scammers Secure Huge Money from Australian Victims
» SPAMfighter News - 1/29/2007
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