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Web Scam Bilks State of Utah Out of $2.5M

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the lessons-from-the-nigerian dept.

Security 138

KitB sends in a story in the Salt Lake Tribune that tells of a Web-based scam, resembling some used by Nigerian gangs, that snared the state of Utah. $2.5M was sent to a bank account in Texas before the bank raised a question and then froze $1.8M in the account. "Thieves apparently used a Nigerian-based scam to steal $2.5 million from the Utah treasury, covering their tracks by using intermediaries and a church address. A Salt Lake Tribune review of the names listed in a search warrant as receiving or transferring money [found] names of African origin or connections to that continent. Michael Kessler, ... a forensic accounting [investigator] in New York City, said the thieves appear to have used a simple scam that originated in Nigeria about five years ago. The Utah theft is the first time he's seen a government victimized. 'Their IT people should have known better,' Kessler said after reviewing a copy of the search warrant Thursday. 'It sounds like any kid could have done this.'"

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138 comments

Everyone (4, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859435)

Everyone who did not oppose this scam upon hearing about it should be fired or regulated to a minimum wage job at the bottom of the totem pole.

There is simply no excuse for wasting that much money that us taxpayers were forced to give to them. Even if they spent $2.5 million on a golden water fountain in an obscure park, at least the people could use it. No one except the scammers will get any use out of this money.

Re:Everyone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859497)

Stupid Mormons...

Re:Everyone (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859577)

No shit. Anyone who believes in that load of horse-shit, gets what they deserve.

Re:Everyone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859709)

Hey trolls, go back to digg.

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859811)

RTFA! This wasn't the 419 scam. Idiot.

Re:Everyone (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859691)

Insightful? Nice. I love how it's politically correct to bash mormons.

Re:Everyone (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859875)

STFU. Religion is the only place where stupidity can not be questioned. If I questioned anyone's idiocy regarding anything, it's acceptable. If I suddenly judge your stupidity for believing in religion (fairy tales), I'm suddenly a hatemongering elitist. Go stick your dick in another twelve year old you fucking cry baby.

Re:Everyone (-1, Offtopic)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860191)

. If I suddenly judge your stupidity for believing in religion (fairy tales), I'm suddenly a hatemongering elitist. Go stick your dick in another twelve year old you fucking cry baby.

Ah the irony.

Re:Everyone (0, Offtopic)

HailSatan (843446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859947)

And what about those poor scientologists? And the Raelians, and don't forget those silly Amish. heh, people and religious beliefs. What a crazy bunch.

Re:Everyone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859845)

It seems like fair play, since the state is essentially a theocracy and the Mormon religion is inherently racist by their teachings.

I don't think any other religion is less stupid than theirs. They're all idiots. But it's nice to see any of them getting what they have coming whenever it happens.

Well done, karma!

Re:Everyone (4, Funny)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859503)

What happened to:

"Government scam bilks America out of $800 Billion"?

Re:Everyone (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860017)

Oh, boy, if I had mod points I'd fix that -1 Troll right now with a +1 Funny.

Re:Everyone (5, Informative)

RodgerDodger (575834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859517)

*sigh* can't you read TFA? There wasn't a scam like the Nigerian scams - this is more a case of someone forging invoices.

Essentially, the scammers changed the bank details for the University of Utah, and submitted invoices. The state paid them. Yes, the state was slack and had poor procedures for identifying and preventing fraud, but it wasn't one of the 419 scams. Importantly, there doesn't appear to have been an element of greed on the scamee's part.

This was a scam technique that originated in Nigeria. It wasn't the Nigerian 419 Scam. Strangely enough, Nigeria has been the origin of more than one type of scam.

How is that Nigerian? (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859547)

This was a scam technique that originated in Nigeria.

Submitting fake invoices did NOT originate in Nigeria any more than the "419" (aka "The Spanish Prisoner") scam did.

These scams have been around for YEARS.

It's just sensationalism to mention Nigeria in the article.

Re:How is that Nigerian? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859807)

I think the Nigerian scam part comes into play with the bank account being opened by an intermediary for the scammers. The intermediary, in this case, is the rube who fell for the usual 419scam and opened a new account to receive the transferred money from the "Nigerian Prince". The scammers took that bank info, forged an order to change the account info where payments would be deposited, and proceeded to defraud Utah with fake invoices. In a reversal of the usual scam where the rube's money is drained from his account after he turns over the details of his bank account, this time the account actually had a lot of money deposited into it!

Re:How is that Nigerian? (2, Informative)

RodgerDodger (575834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860421)

Possibly it's the way they arranged for the change to the bank details of a legitimate organisation? Dunno. The article said the scam originated in Nigeria. I was just pointing out that this wasn't a 419.

Re:How is that Nigerian? (4, Informative)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860729)

Possibly it's the way they arranged for the change to the bank details of a legitimate organisation? Dunno. The article said the scam originated in Nigeria. I was just pointing out that this wasn't a 419.

This is a multi-part scam. What occurred with the state of Utah had nothing to do with Nigeria at all. That is just tabloid journalism where they mention something catchy in the title to get people to read an article that might otherwise be uninteresting.

Part one was where the scammers used an entity that was already billing the state of Utah and faked invoices with bank accounts changed to funnel the money to the scammers instead. The University of Utah was obviously known to the state and it was not unusual for them to be submitting large invoices.

Part two, and this is the Nigerian component, was using a person's greed to accept what is sometimes illicit funds in order to receive a share. That's classic Nigerian. I know where there is 10,000,000$ USD but I need your help to access it. In return for your bank account details and cooperation I agree to give you a "commission".

The people who created the bank accounts where the state of Utah funds were deposited into were the victims of the "Nigerian" fraud. Although, it's not exactly clear that they were actually victims in the sense that they lost money.

The part that is disappointing is not the "country bumpkins" that cooperated in receiving the money, but the accountants working for the state of Utah that did not have the sense to check bank account numbers against an approved list before transferring millions of taxpayer dollars.

Re:Everyone (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859685)

I find it hard to believe that this scam originated in Nigeria. It seems like just regular organized crime fraud to me. It's not as if accounts payable departments of corporations and governments have never run into falsified invoices to be paid to fictitious companies before. That the perpetrators had enough information to get the bank accounts changed, makes it seem like an inside job to me. I just don't see the Nigerian connection, other than the "African origin" of the names on the search warrant(?).

Re:Everyone (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859773)

Maybe this is just me, but I don't find this scam as laughably lame as others here. Big corporations with $500+M in sales likely have controls in place to prevent this type of thing, sure, but how about state and local governments, universities, small and mid-size businesses, mom and pop establishments... many could be victimized by this type of thing.

This is about purchase orders, not bank accounts (5, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859825)

It wasn't even changing the bank accounts. This was a situation where somebody got some purchase orders for a university department and the state paid what appeared to be legitimate purchase orders drawn on department funds. The "vendor number" is to speedily process and simplify the task of allocating funds to people who are providing services or products to the university.

Where this scam became a scam was with the process of submitting the purchase orders to the state, and submitting new bank account information for the vendor. Indeed, some of the purchases that were made may have even been legitimate, in terms of having a vendor like a computer supplier deliver a dozen or more computers to the department and then submitting the purchase order to the university accounting office. (I don't know what exactly was purchased here, but this seems to be something on the order of what was done.) The goods were delivered, payment was expected, and a check was cut and sent to what state records said was the legitimate vendor.

The "vendor number" wouldn't be the department's code number, although it is possible that the director's signature was forged and several purchase orders were sent through asking payment for items that have never even been delivered in the first place. The reporters on this incident certainly got the details screwed up in terms of typical purchase order procedures.

Having used Utah state purchase orders myself as a state employee, I can see how this would get missed for some time until the paperwork gets through. Accounting for all of this takes months and quite a bit of good faith is depended upon through out the whole process... although there are a number of points where purchase orders are questioned eventually and have to be reviewed. Smaller businesses would scream quickly if they didn't get their money right away, so it would have to be a larger vendor like Wal-Mart or Circuit City (again, I don't know the specifics here, but this is typical) where the accounting chain is much longer and wouldn't get caught right away.

What is the scary thing here is that this department had so much money to throw around that missing a couple millions dollars wouldn't be missed. It wasn't the "department's bank account number" as all state funds are deposited together in one place, including tax funds and research grants. This is about how money was disbursed once authorization from the project administrators/department chair has occurred and was intended to pay what appeared to be legitimate debts.

The University of Utah does have billions of dollars floating around from various research grants and project of various types, so even though the amount of money here seems staggering, it is a drop in the bucket compared to how much money flows through that campus. It isn't even the first inappropriate allocation of funds, although this one should have had flags come up quite some time earlier from a whole bunch of different sources.... not the least of which was the project lead who should have been reviewing invoices charged to his project (where this design department comes into play) and questioning things that seemed out of place. The state won't allocate money if the project has insufficient funds on the charge code.

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859981)

The whole reason for all of these procedures was because they do not trust their employees with money. Instead they put their trust in a system which is basically a Purchase Order number. Once someone knows the system they can keep the money coming like an ATM.

I am surprised that this does not happen more often because all it takes for someone to get money is the belief that the system will take care of it. A few months later when the mistake has been identified it is too late.

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (5, Insightful)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860019)

I wish I had mod points for you. When people trust a system implicitly it is at least as bad as trusting a person implicitly. At least with a person they may have the character to not screw you. A systems has the morals of whoever is using it, and that changes with every user, legitimate or otherwise.

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860367)

"The whole reason for all of these procedures was because they do not trust their employees with money."

Anyone wanting to have accountability in government won't trust people with cash either. It's just too easy to forget to enter a payment in the system, and then you have 'hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted for' such as with the complaints about Halliburton.

The bottom line is: any system can leak, and large systems naturally develop cracks through which exploits can occur. Constant maintenance, accounting, and double-checks are one defense, which in this case worked (according to the summary, where 1.8M of the 2.5M was stopped cold). So we're talking better than 2/3 of the fraud was successfully caught on the double-check, and a total loss of 700 thousand out of a yearly budget of many millions or a few billion.

Not perfect, but not a loss of all 2.5 million (and I hope they are looking into ways to retrieve some of that money, as this appears to have happened recently).

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (4, Insightful)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860025)

If this was a purchasing issue, why does the article quote the interviewee as suggesting, "Their IT people should have known better,"

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (4, Informative)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860065)

If this was a purchasing issue, why does the article quote the interviewee as suggesting, "Their IT people should have known better,"

The interviewee is quite possibly a douche nozzle.

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (4, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860315)

Perhaps even the whole douche.

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860457)

Why must my mod points expire the day before I need em....? Up for you and the parent...

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (1)

garvon (32299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860533)

From TFA
"In one case investigated by Kessler's firm, thieves used computer software transmitted by e-mail to monitor financial information input by the chief financial officer of an Ohio insurance firm. Once they had the information, they diverted insurance payments to their bank account. About $1 million was stolen. "
so yes it is an it problem. ....sort of.

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (2, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860819)

Oh wow, a classic crime, but they use a COMPUTER!

Quick, fire up the spin-machine!

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860307)

Actually, being on the opposite side now (I am a small business) we know when a Purchase Order comes in that we're on a 30+ day hold to get our actual money. We have to ship product immediately, and then invoice, and wait. Some agencies are fast (only 30 days from invoice to payment), some are characteristically slow. So it's possible for 60-90 days to pass before anyone realizes something really DID go wrong, and that it's not just a standard delay in the system.

Re:This is about purchase orders, not bank account (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860419)

Poor accountancy procedures, like this, are the reason why I'm being made redundant. Our accounts team where so awful at organising payment I would regularly get calls about invoices over 9 months due. Eventually we got put on stop by all our suppliers, we lost our clients, we lost our jobs.

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860995)

"It wasn't the Nigerian 419 Scam. Strangely enough, Nigeria has been the origin of more than one type of scam."

Was this the 420 scam?

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859559)

Do you Americans really pronounce it "dollar 2.5 million"?

Re:Everyone (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859613)

No, the dollar is just a symbol, it's usually pronounced "two point five million dollars." Although one might say "two and a half million dollars."

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859761)

Because apparently the English say pound 2.5 mil, the Japanese say yen 2.5 mil and Europeans say euro 2.5 mil.

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26861099)

What are you smoking? The Euro symbol is correctly placed where you pronounce it in Germany [apple.com] , Spain [apple.com] , France [apple.com] and Portugal [apple.com] .

Re:Everyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860769)

Yes.

Re:Everyone (5, Insightful)

oheso (898435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859763)

That doesn't sound at all like a Nigerian scam to me. It sounds like good, old-fashioned white collar fraud. The story is horrible. The Ohio insurance firm case apparently has nothing to do with the story. There's no explanation why the university's "IT people should have known better". What did the IT people have to do with it? I love the suggestion that people should immediately be suspicious of those with "names of African origin or connections to that continent". And let's see who we're looking for. A guy with a Minnesota driver's license. A truck driver -- but not a Minnesota license? Narrowing it down here ...

Re:Everyone (3, Insightful)

oheso (898435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859801)

"The story is horribl[y written]." Just to make it clear ...

Re:Everyone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859769)

"should be fired or regulated to a minimum wage job"

Uh, do you mean "relegated"?

Re:Everyone (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860225)

million on a golden water fountain in an obscure park, at least the people could use it.

For golden showers?

Found a transcript (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860433)

Everyone who did not oppose this scam upon hearing about it should be fired or regulated to a minimum wage job at the bottom of the totem pole.

Actually, I've seen a re-enactment of a similar scam [youtube.com] , and it was very convincing.

Safeguards (-1, Offtopic)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859459)

Seriously people are still falling for this? If you do more than 100,000 a year with a bank you should automatically have a clause that states all assets transferred to Nigeria (or any country you don't regularly do business with for that matter) should be frozen until approved by person X, person X being some tightwad. Social engineering will always work to some degree but seriously people, wtf.

Re:Safeguards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859493)

Um, read TFA. The scam "style" was reminiscent of Nigerian M.O., but the invoices were to a BofA account in Texas.

Re:Safeguards (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859507)

Seriously people are still falling for this? If you do more than 100,000 a year with a bank you should automatically have a clause that states all assets transferred to Texas (or any state you don't regularly do business with for that matter) should be frozen until approved by person X, person X being some tightwad. Social engineering will always work to some degree but seriously people, wtf.

Re:Safeguards (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859531)

Uh, how about you read the fucking summary:

A Salt Lake Tribune review of the names listed in a search warrant as receiving or transferring money [found] names of African origin or connections to that continent.

Still, this is no big deals because governments give free handouts to niggers all the time. The only difference with this time is the fact that Mormons and other religious idiots are stupider than niggers are.

nigger:"OOk-ook eek-eek gibs me two million dallahs, cracka! Unga ook eek..."
State of Utah government I.T. department: "Duuuuhhhhhh, oh-kay! The prophet Joe Smith and Jesus love you, brother!"

Re:Safeguards (4, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859907)

If you do more than 100,000 a year with a bank you should automatically have a clause that states all assets transferred to Nigeria (or any country you don't regularly do business with for that matter) should be frozen

You mean foreign countries like New Jersey and Texas? The story says the money was being sent to a bank in Texas (which was the entity that raised a flag on this) and checks were going to some nonexistent guy in New Jersey.

But you're on the right track that there should be some "human checking" if the banking details of a state's approved list are changed. I have no idea why the IT people are being blamed. This was the error of some clerk in the accounting department, or worse, by the management of that department who didn't have a validation process for changes in banking information for vendors who are paid over a certain amount.

My boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859505)

fell for one of these, even after I warned him. The crazy part is I'm pretty sure he's using business funds, not his own money.

Re:My boss (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860559)

Joe Biden.....is that you???

Dear Sirs.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859513)

I would like to transfer a sum of SEVEN HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS to a bunch of rich people. I request of you your help in this transaction, and I will need your taxcode number. In return, I will give you economic stability.

Please help me kind sirs!!!

Re:Dear Sirs.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859579)

So, if a Nigerian wants your money, it's bad, but if a Kenyan wants your money, it's OK?

Re:Dear Sirs.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860557)

Ooooo, Burn!!

Inside job? (0, Flamebait)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859515)

I didn't read TFA (of course), so I find it really hard to believe anyone of any kind of intelligence and access to state funds could've fallen for a 419.

It was probably either 1) More elaborate than a simple 419, or 2) if they did fall for it, I'd say odds are that it's an inside job.

I mean, really, people can't be THAT stupid, can they?

Re:Inside job? (1)

RodgerDodger (575834) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859529)

It wasn't a 419 at all. RTFA.

Re:Inside job? (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859587)

There is a pretty common scam going around where you send out thousands of small, reasonable sounding invoices. A small number of accounting departments pay the bill without question. This sounds similar to that.

Read the article- Not the usual Nigerian scam (5, Interesting)

jensend (71114) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859583)

Already there are lots of people making silly comments about how stupid the state must be to fall for a 419 scam. But this wasn't a 419 scam or anything like it- the fraudsters submitted paperwork to change the bank account information for a group with which the state already did business and then submitted a bunch of fake invoices. The state paid the bills. They should have had more things in place to protect against these kinds of fraud, but this wasn't a case of idiotic gullibility or greed.

Re:Read the article- Not the usual Nigerian scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859893)

but this wasn't a case of idiotic gullibility or greed.

According to TFA, the bank account that was used to receive the payments for the fraudulent invoices, was opened by an intermediary for the scammers. The intermediary probably opened the account because he fell for the 419 scam and thought he was really going to get money transferred into his account from a Nigerian Prince. Of course, money was transferred into the account, just from the State of Utah and not Nigeria. It's hard to believe anyone could be that gullible, yet we know that a lot people have fallen for the 419 scam.

Why are they blaming the IT department? (5, Insightful)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859585)

Unless they mean the insurance company's IT department, as a password sniffer apparently got past them.

What that story has to do with the 'change the account number for vendor and submit bogus invoices' story I don't know. At no point do they actually appear to explain the fraud.

Also, a 'Nigerian' scam traditionally refers to advance fee fraud, aka, 'I have X million here that you can get if you send me Y thousand.'. That does not appear to be what happened here.

There's a difference between being dumb and falling for that scam, and having someone break in and change the address your business (Or, in this case, government) are supposed to send money to.

Mod parent up. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859677)

That's a MUCH better explanation than TFA had.

From TFA:

In one case investigated by Kessler's firm, thieves used computer software transmitted by e-mail to monitor financial information input by the chief financial officer of an Ohio insurance firm.

Sounds like a trojan to me. Or possibly an exploit of Outlook to install a keylogger. But not in any way "Nigerian".

Re:Why are they blaming the IT department? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859955)

I'm curious about what business it was that had the purchase orders go through and not get money deposited into their account. It may have been somebody who created a new vendor number and simply submitted bogus purchase orders with the project administrator's signature (or department chair's sig), but it seems like that would have drawn a whole bunch of attention. Vendors themselves get reviewed at least to find if they are a legitimate business, although getting a vendor number isn't all that hard of a process (I've done it in Utah).

The failure here is with the department fiscal controls when all of the invoices for the department or research project (research projects get their own charge code) should have been reviewed by the department chair or the project admin (usually a tenured professor). That is the person with the ultimate responsibility here, and likely to be the one to land in the hot seat when all of this falls through. Other accounting safeguards should have also been in place, but that is where the ultimate blame lies to keep this from normally happening.

It certainly isn't any kid that could do this, and most attempts to do this to other departments or project charge codes would get caught very quickly.

Re:Why are they blaming the IT department? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860685)

Well, they did say the scammers submitted purchase orders themselves.

So it's entirely possible that the business that was supposed to get paid hadn't actually submitted any purchase orders at all. Like a contractual landscaping company that hadn't actually done any work recently, but obviously would be still in the system. It could even be a company they had stopped using altogether.

By not expecting any money, the company was not surprised when they didn't get it.

And, heck, there could have been legit payments made during that time, it could just be really competent scammers that were monitoring the incoming money, and actually forwarding said legit payments to the original account.

Stupid, Incompetent bureaucrats? (0)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859603)

Stop the presses! This is unprecedented!

-jcr

Re:Stupid, Incompetent bureaucrats? (2, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860427)

Except for the fact that this doesn't appear to have anything to do with stupid, incompetent bureaucrats - unless you only go by the misleading summary.

Well, let me be the first to say... (0, Flamebait)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859609)

Haha haha haha haha haha haha haha haha ho-hum

Sorry couldn't resist.

Is there a part in this bail-out plan for bailing out dumbass states?

IT People's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859611)

Article Quotes:

Their IT people should have known better," Kessler said after reviewing a copy of the search warrant Thursday.

The search warrant ... said someone in August obtained a vendor number for the University of Utah ... forged the signature of the department's director and submitted paperwork to the state of Utah changing the department's bank account information.

(Some bits chopped out, read the article for the full paragraph)

How is this the IT people's fault? Someone forged a signature, submitted it, and the state accepted it. I think it was a procedure problem and not a technology problem. Article also mentions that they now have done steps to verify the direct deposit stuff.

Re:IT People's Fault? (2, Insightful)

Teancum (67324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860001)

Verification of the direct deposit stuff is to confirm that the account is valid and has a proper routing numbers. That is not a control in terms of verifying that the purchases were legitimate or that the correct person is receiving the money. They could ask the bank where the money is being deposited for verification of the name on the account, but how hard is that?

The only control on this is to have somebody review each invoice and confirm that the good or service was actually provided. Some accountant sitting in the basement of the administration building of a university campus does not have the ability to make this declaration. All they can do is to verify there is money in the charge code and that the vendor is one on the list of "approved vendors" for the school. It is up to the department chair/research project leader to decide if the allocation is appropriate.

What is sad here is that the trigger that something may have been wrong here came from an out-of-state bank wondering why so much money was going into their bank from a government on an account that was apparently rather new. It is appropriate to question the department controls on this.

Otherwise, this is just a typical bank fraud case, and not even all that big of a bank fraud situation either. Hardly even newsworthy.

Good day (3, Funny)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859621)

PLEASE KINDLY PARDON ME FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE

Good Day,

Please, kindly pardon me for any inconvenience this letter may cost you because I know it may come to you as a surprise as we'have no previous correspondence.

I got your contact as i was searching for helping hand in your country , this is why I decided to appeal to you directly for assistance because I' have no relations or friends in your country for help me.I am Mrs.Tema Williams from Zimbabwe. I am a widow being that I lost my husband last year.

My husband was able to secure a sum of $2,500,000 dollars American through creative use of finanial instruments from the state of Utah.

I want you to do me a favour to receive this funds to a safe account in your country or any safer place as the beneficiary.

For your assistance, I have two options for you. Firstly you can choose to have 5% of the money for your assistance, and helping my family investing this funds, or you can go into partnership with me for the proper profitable investment of the money in your country. Which ever the option you want, please do notify me in your reply.

I have plans to do investment in your country, like real estate and industrial production.This is my reason for writing to you. Please if you are willing to assist me and my only Son Williams, indicate your interest in replying soonest.

Thanks and best regards .
Mrs Tema Williams

Re:Good day (4, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859843)

Bah, nobody will fall for that letter. In order to succeed, it has to be in all capital letters.

Re:Good day (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860923)

Yes but even the Slashdot posting script won't fall for all-caps scams.

So why didn't God intervene? (5, Funny)

jc42 (318812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859625)

Could He have been in on the scam?

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859673)

Don't blaspheme, just be quiet and pass the collection plate.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (2, Informative)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859741)

Even though Utah != Mormons, I'll assume that you're referring to them.

Mormons don't have a collection plate.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859779)

No, just 10% tithing to be a "good mormon"

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859837)

Quotes? Whom are you quoting? I can't seem to find that in any materials published by the church.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860003)

Punctuation can mean several things. For example, a period (or full stop for those across the pond) can end a sentence, can denote a shortening of words, and can be used to show that a passage has been elided.

You are implying that quotation marks can ONLY mean that something is being quoted. This implication is untrue. Look up "scare quotes" and pay close attention to the "Negative" meaning.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859731)

+5?

Right, because all religious people believe that God makes sure that they never lose any money or make any mistakes.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (3, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859781)

Yeah; I was a bit surprised by that "+5 Informative" rating. But I clicked on it and got the details. Only one mod was "Informative". Another was "Funny", which was what I was going for. The other was "Underrated", which has me a bit puzzled.

And I well remember when I was little, and was sent to Sunday School at several different churches as we moved around every few years. In every one of them, I heard "teaching" that if you truly believe in God, and pray to Him (and tithe ;-), you'll get very rich. Lots of other religious people have, so you can, too.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (2)

Jantastic (196238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859787)

+5?

The devil must have mod points today

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (2, Insightful)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859749)

Really? You're modded +5 informative for a question that gets answered in the first week of any non-denominational, even atheist-leaning comparative religions course? You might start with Victor Frankl and continue from there. Or just GOTO 10 and troll again...I mean, religion-bashing seems to get you great mod points around here, and none of it (that I've ever seen) even approaches 200-level college material...

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (2, Funny)

theskipper (461997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859851)

So "Humor Analysis and Identification" is a 300-level class?

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859899)

Oh SURE, his informative gets updated to "funny" just after I post a super-serious response. That happens every time I talk to Raelians about UFOlogy, too. They start out with this serious look on their face, then at the end of the discussion they're laughing about it like we all live in some sort of a big comic book. On to the next victim, I guess. Religion has been saved this time.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (1)

JStegmaier (1051176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859967)

You realize posters don't moderate their own posts, right? The fact that it was moderated informative by someone doesn't mean the poster wasn't trying to be funny.

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860093)

Right, no, I was talking about ba'al, the god of /., in fact one of the few who survived the dot-com crash

Re:So why didn't God intervene? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860161)

Really? You're modded +5 informative for a question that gets answered in the first week of any non-denominational, even atheist-leaning comparative religions course? You might start with Victor Frankl and continue from there. Or just GOTO 10 and troll again...I mean, religion-bashing seems to get you great mod points around here, and none of it (that I've ever seen) even approaches 200-level college material...

That's probably because what's being bashed doesn't even approach 100-level college material.

Hey, wow! (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860589)

I got "Funny", "Informative" and "Flamebait" mods for this one. (And the "Overrated" mod seems to have disappeared.)

This rating has surpassed all my previous ratings for incongruity. I'll have to keep a link to it, as a nice example of how screwy the moderation can get around here.

It is impressive how poor a sense of humor a lot of the folks here seem to have. Maybe I should have included a smiled. But I really thought it would be redundant this time.

a fool and his money are soon parted (1)

deodiaus2 (980169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859819)

Whether it was a Nigerian scam or just a plain St. Louis swindle, there are plenty of people out there looking to con you. You just can't be too careful. Nigeria might have lots of oil wealth, but that is tightly held by the families in the oil business. The rest of the population was to dig up their own "income". Just amongst legitimate bills, there are lots of errors and unnecessary stuff that gets added to the bills to piss me off. I wish I had knowledge to know which things were completely unnecessary.
For example, my automatic transmission was not working. I had to pay $700 for getting the gears replaced. I paid a bit more for using aluminum gears, rather than plastic parts, but this was ok. However, what sort of thief designer would put plastic gears in a transmission? But, I could not just purchase the gears alone. I had to buy the who damn assembly!!

Re:a fool and his money are soon parted (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860969)

I paid a bit more for using aluminum gears, rather than plastic parts,

LOL what? I've never heard of plastic gears, your mechanic may have meant some kind of retainer for the gears, not the actual gears. Automatic transmissions are typically tough little buggers that have to put up with a lot of force, plastic wouldn't hold up 10 minutes as a gear. All in all 700$ doesn't sound like too much to do what is essentially a complete rebuild on your tranny.

Blame the IT guys? What a prick. (4, Interesting)

moxley (895517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859827)

I love this guy's quote: "Their IT guys should have known better."

Yeah, right..Blame the IT people, because they most certainly are the ones who decide who gets paid...

I think it's either that whoever fucked up figures the ol standby excuse of "blaming IT" will work in almost any situation....Or is it the old "those IT nerds, they're supposed to be smart - they should've warned us, those confounded proton jockeys!"

Re:Blame the IT guys? What a prick. (2, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860047)

I agree. The IT guys here are the last people who should get the blame here.

Utah was one of the first government to allow an "electronic identity" for commerce, and that may have been one of the sources of problem here in terms of somebody forging an identity to switch bank accounts of a vendor. But the blame is not with the guys running the servers but rather the lame procedures requiring only an SSN and mother's maiden name to have your identity "confirmed" electronically.... if even that much information was used to change the vendor routing number.

Re:Blame the IT guys? What a prick. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860321)

Indeed. This wasn't about IT at all. It was an accounting debacle all the way. It's amazing that they set up wire payments to a new account number without so much as a call to the other company/institution's A/R department for confirmation. Sloppy.

But I learned a new trick for my accounting career. Blame the IT guy. Thankies.

Re:Blame the IT guys? What a prick. (1)

Biswalt (1273170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860537)

I love that the guy blaming the IT guys also apparently didn't read the article. POs and vouchers are easy enough to screw up, I work in a small store, and deal with POs everyday. Small little errors go undetected very easily until it gunks shit up at a later point in time, and then it's a pain in the ass to get it done right. On another note, I was going to say this was a small amount of money relatively, but Utah's overall general fund holds about $150 million so 2.8 million would have represented about 1.86% of all the money that Utah has at it's disposal not marked for education funds. That is very fucking significant.

Mormons... (0, Troll)

ribo-bailey (724061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859841)

are among the most gullible people on the planet. I have not ever met one that didn't take any anything anyone says as completely true.

Re:Mormons... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860073)

You must not get around much.....

I wouldn't trust a Mormon on a business transaction if my life depended on it.... particularly if they mentioned their religion as a part of their introduction and especially if they started the business transaction with a prayer.

And I'm Mormon!

I swear, Utah is second only to Nigeria for scams, and almost everybody I know has been burned at least a couple of times in their lives. Most of the scams are dreamed up by fellow Mormons to boot, as non-Mormons don't hold a candle to the true con artists.

I'm not saying that all Mormons are con artists, but if only 1% of them are, they become quite visible even if the other 99% want nothing to do with these idiots.

Re:Mormons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860835)

Surely you wouldn't be referring to Gov. Mitt Romney [michiganmessenger.com] , would you?

Poorly Written Post. (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26859859)

The only "Nigerian" connection seems to be the name "Ongaga". Not compelling to me.

I wonder, though, if the choice of a bank in Texas was deliberate, and if they were using a third party as a shill of some kind. When I was in Texas, years ago, I noticed some of the "different" laws Texas has in regard to banking. I don't know if they are still the same, but at the time, ANY bank error in favor of a customer legally became the property of the customer, without question.

FAIL! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26859979)

Where is Lenny you fuckers!?

Utah and IQ (1)

PotatoFiend (1330299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860063)

According to some reports, Utah has/had the 49th lowest average IQ [chrisevans3d.com] of the 50 states.

That would never happen to me (4, Funny)

kimvette (919543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26860455)

I am proud to say that this will never happen to me. I am about to come into some money - approximately $5million US, and when I receive it I will be sure to avoid scams such as that.

How am I coming into the $5mil? I'm glad you asked. I recently received an email from Ima S. Ucker, who as you might know is the nephew of a deposed prince in Nigeria who is in need of assistance of getting their family wealth away from some crooks. They just need a tiny fraction of their wealth to return to their comfortable lifestyles, so they offered to give me the vast majority of their wealth in exchange for helping them transfer the money. All I had to do was to provide them with my full name, address, date of birth, social security number, savings account number and pin --- oh wait. . .

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26860759)

Utah: What goes around comes around. I hope you get scammed out of even more money.

I hope somebody got fired (1)

terryfunk (60752) | more than 5 years ago | (#26861133)

any IT dept should have picked this up.

They deserve to get robbed.

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