Scammers hacked the department email account and tricked them into diverting funds to their account; banks and police are trying to recover the money
By Karissa Gall, Haida Gwaii Observer
The Sandspit Volunteer Fire Department accidentally sent almost $100,000 to fraudsters last month, and is unsure if the funds can be recovered.
In a June 2 letter to Sandspit residents obtained by the Observer on Wednesday (June 17), the department says the wire transfer of $95,058 was intended for a used fire truck, funded through Sandspit’s Vibrant Communities grant money.
The elaborate scheme played out in May.
According to the department, a deposit was successfully made to a bank account associated with Rocky Mountain Phoenix, the company supplying the used fire truck.
It’s believed that during this time, a fraudster hacked into the email address of the department’s volunteer project manager and was able to monitor email correspondence.
The fraudster created an email address almost matching the representative from Rocky Mountain Phoenix, but with the word “Mountain” being spelled “Mountian” in the email address.
The department says that eyebrows were raised when the scammer requested the second and final payment for the truck be made to an American bank account that was different from the account the deposit was sent to, but when the project manager asked why, they received an email and phone call from the fraudster pretending to be the chief financial officer and other representatives from Rocky Mountain Phoenix.
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