February 24, 2024

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District was the victim of a fraudulent transaction involving construction funds in late August, with nearly $3 million taken from the district coffers. According to reports from the SMMUSD, the district became aware of the fraudulent activity on August 28. It was discovered that a hacked email of a construction contractor was used to perpetrate the fraud, resulting in a loss of $2,933,511 from a regular electronic funds transfer to the contractor.

An investigation was launched by SMMUSD, in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was determined that the source of the fraudulent transaction was a hacked email account of the construction company, not a district email account.

Efforts to recover the lost funds were successful, with $2,733,305 being returned to the district. However, there is still a shortfall of $200,206 which the district is actively pursuing. The district is demanding that the company responsible for the compromised email reimburse the remaining amount.

According to SMMUSD Assistant Superintendent of Fiscal Services Melody Canady, the district had refrained from making a public statement about the incident in order to avoid interfering with ongoing investigations and the recovery of the lost funds. However, given the duration of time since the incident, the district has decided to share the information with the public.

This incident serves as a reminder for individuals and organizations to be vigilant against cyber attacks and scams. In recent years, there has been a rise in fraudulent activities targeting businesses and individuals, with millions of dollars being lost to these schemes. It is important to stay informed and take necessary precautions to protect against such threats.

Some recent examples of fraudulent activities include the case of Mumbai builder Vijay Machinder, who was placed in ED custody after a remand for his involvement in a multi-crore investment scam (https://investmentshoax.com/vijay-machinder-mumbai-builder-placed-in-ed-custody-after-remand/). In another case, the SEC halted an alleged $191 million cattle Ponzi scheme and obtained emergency relief for investors (https://investmentshoax.com/sec-halts-alleged-191-million-cattle-ponzi-scheme-obtains-emergency-relief/).

Individuals should also be cautious of credit card scams, such as the recent one targeting mail and potentially stealing personal information (https://investmentshoax.com/police-issue-key-advice-to-protect-against-new-credit-card-scam-targeting-mail-and-potentially/). In Fairfield, there have been incidents of mail theft and credit card scams, prompting authorities to issue a warning to the public (https://investmentshoax.com/important-information-on-recent-incidents-of-mail-theft-and-credit-card-scams-in-fairfield/). The IRS has also warned about potential scams involving art donation tax claims (https://investmentshoax.com/irs-warns-of-potential-scams-involving-art-donation-tax-claims/).

In a recent settlement, Apple has agreed to pay $18 million to resolve a lawsuit over a credit card scam (https://investmentshoax.com/apple-reaches-settlement-in-credit-card-scam-lawsuit-khq-news-update/). As technology advances, scammers are finding new ways to target victims. It is important to stay informed and protect oneself from such threats.

According to the IRS, there are certain steps that individuals can take to protect against scams, including being aware of the “dirty dozen” of IRS scammers (https://investmentshoax.com/protecting-yourself-from-the-dirty-dozen-of-irs-scammers-tips-from-the/). Additionally, the rise of credit card-friendly fraud scams, often perpetrated by Gen Z individuals, highlights the need for increased awareness and vigilance (https://investmentshoax.com/gen-zs-role-in-the-rise-of-credit-card-friendly-fraud-scams/).

In conclusion, the incident at SMMUSD serves as a reminder to always be cautious and vigilant against potential scams and cyber attacks. By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, individuals and organizations can protect themselves from falling victim to such fraudulent activities.

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