City of Ellensburg pays nearly $186K to fraudulent vendor

(Information from: Daily Record,

ELLENSBURG, Wash. (AP) — Officials say the city of Ellensburg sent nearly $186,000 to a fraudulent account posing as a construction company.

The Daily Record reported Tuesday that the city’s existing business arrangement with the company was to pay the vendor with a physical check, but an email from someone representing themselves as the construction vendor’s accountant asked for an electronic transfer instead.

City Finance Director Jerica Pascoe says the documentation appeared authentic so the electronic payment was sent to a routing number at a Wells Fargo branch in Texas.

Pascoe says the scam was discovered when the fraudulent accountant came back to the city, saying the transfer had been rejected and that new account information would be provided.

City Attorney and Assistant City Manager Terry Weiner says the city carries theft insurance but that the incident has been reported to law enforcement agencies including the FBI.