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Ohio taxpayers losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to scams

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(The Center Square) – At least 23 government offices throughout Ohio have been affected by scams associated with redirecting payments from public accounts in the past year.

Ohio Auditor Keith Faber said the scams have hit at least 23 government offices in cities, villages, townships and school districts, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses of public funds.

Faber issued a bulletin warning of spear phishing attacks and gave information on training.

“These criminals will stop at nothing as they try to convince government employees to send them money,” Faber said. “Stop, think, verify, and validate before signing off on any payouts of public funds. Make sure you know who you are sending money to before hitting send.”

The re-direct schemes, of sometimes called “business email compromises,” look like innocent email messages to government offices from people impersonating vendors or other employees. They ask to have payments sent to different bank accounts.

Government offices throughout the state have believed they were dealing with a known vendor or employee and have processed the requests without following Faber’s guidance to independently verify the legitimacy of the request or identify the person asking for the change.

Faber said that once the money is transferred, it’s difficult to get it back.

Scammers recently took more than $700,000 from the Granville Recreation District in Licking County in central Ohio.

The incident happened in 2023 but wasn’t reported to police until Jan. 30, according to the Reporting Project.

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