FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The city of Fort Lauderdale is now out $1.2 million after it fell victim to a phishing scam, according to police. Detective Ali Adamson, a spokesperson for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, said city officials realized they had been duped after the city paid what it thought was a legitimate bill from Moss Construction, which is building the city’s new police headquarters.
There was “a copy of a blank check indicating it was from Moss Construction, so it all looked very legitimate,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said.
“It was all exactly the way that we have received request before, especially getting a check from the company,” he said.
It turned out to have been a fraudulent request for payment and wasn’t from the company. Officials are hoping to get the money back.
Right now we are hoping to be able to claw it back since it was a wire transfer,” Trantalis said.
Police said the case remained an active investigation.
“We will be working with all appropriate law enforcement agencies to determine exactly what occurred,” Adamson said.
Adamson said FLPD “would like to take this time to remind our community to exercise caution when fulfilling payment requests and to stay vigilant and aware of potential scams.”
Cybersecurity experts said it’s important for governments to stay on top of threats and provide consistent cybersecurity training.
Officials also recommend implementing two-factor authentication and regularly updating security software to protect against cyber attacks.
The Fort Lauderdale incident is just one of many recent scams targeting businesses and individuals. In North Dakota, ranchers lost money on cattle sold to a suspected Ponzi scheme.
In another case, a customer was shocked when their card was rejected at the register for insufficient funds, only to discover it was a scam.
The SEC has also accused a man of being a co-owner in an alleged cattle Ponzi scheme, while the IRS has warned of potential scams involving art donation tax claims.
In Riverside County, a Ponzi scheme was busted and the perpetrators were ordered to pay back $24 million in restitution.
It’s important to stay cautious and vigilant when it comes to financial transactions, especially when dealing with unfamiliar companies or requests. Always double check the legitimacy of a request before making any payments or providing sensitive information.