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Galveston County Approves Outside Investigation Of $525K Scam

County officials admitted last month to sending a $525,280 electronic payment to a bank account controlled by a scammer

Galveston County is hiring a private firm to investigate how scammers defrauded county officials out of more than $525,000 this year.

Galveston County Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to hire Dawson Forensic Group to conduct the investigation and offer recommendations to prevent such theft in the future. Commissioners will pay the Lubbock-based company up to $14,900 to complete the audit, the Galveston County Daily News reported.

County officials admitted last month to sending a $525,280 electronic payment to a bank account controlled by a scammer. County employees received emails from an unknown entity pretending to be a construction firm that was owed money for road repairs. The email scam tricked employees into changing direct deposit information intended for the construction company.

Several departments were determined responsible for the transaction, including the county treasurer, county purchasing office and the county auditor, according to officials.

Randall Rice, the county auditor, completed an audit of the incident in June, but much of the report was kept confidential due to computer coding information.

County Judge Mark Henry requested an outside investigation into the theft. Henry said he didn’t trust the county auditor’s office to be apolitical or independent.

“I don’t even want the auditor’s report,” Henry said. “I know the auditor engages in politics. Dawson will look at the system start to finish, and tell us any fixes we need.”

The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office is also investigating the theft. No arrests have been made yet.

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Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com

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