FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Officials in Flagler County are trying to find out what happened to a $700,000 transfer of funds from the school district that went to a “possible fraudulent vendor bank account,” district officials announced on Tuesday.
News4JAX sister station WKMG reported that the district said in a release that it began an internal investigation when it discovered the transfer and is working alongside the FBI and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the release, Superintendent LaShakia Moore reported the investigation to the school board.
“We want to assure the public there has been no data breach on our part and that all district information remains secure and protected,” the release reads.
According to the sheriff’s office, the money was supposed to go toward the Matanzas High School expansion project.
“It was discovered because the contractor was looking for payment. The district said they had sent the payment, but the contractor never received it,” Sheriff Rick Staly said.
The sheriff said his cyber crime team is trying to find out who took the $719,500.
The district told investigators it sent the money through an ACH, or online electronic transfer on Sept. 22 but on Monday, Oct. 2, the contractor told the district it never received it.
“In my opinion at this stage, it’s unlikely that we will recover the money that has been taken because of the time delay,” Staly told WKMG.
The sheriff said typically in these cases, someone hacks into a computer via a virus and watches the user’s movement. He said then they pose as someone the computer’s user would typically be in contact with and ask for money.
“There was a breach somewhere. It could be the contractor, it could be the school district,” Staly said.
Detectives took the school district’s computer that was tied to the payment and now they’re working to get the contractor’s computer.
“That’s why you have to do the forensic autopsies because it always leaves a trail,” the sheriff said.
Moore said the district is taking all precautions now and is looking into all options to get the money back or replace it.
“We are not concerned that any of our finances or any of our other data is at jeopardy,” she said.
The district told WKMG that it does not expect the issue to affect the expansion project at this time but could not comment further.
Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.
https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2023/10/05/700k-in-flagler-school-funds-taken-in-possible-fraudulent-transfer-sheriffs-office-says/ $700K in Flagler school funds taken in possible fraudulent transfer, sheriff’s office says