City Manager Greg Chavarria confirmed that the Accounts Payable department in Fort Lauderdale was tricked by a scammer posing as a local construction firm employee, leading to the fraudulent payment.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is currently investigating an incident where the City of Fort Lauderdale fell victim to a phishing scam. On Thursday September 14th the city made a payment of $1.2 million believing it to be a bill from Moss Construction. It was later discovered that the payment request was actually fraudulent.
According to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, there was “a copy of a blank check indicating it was from Moss Construction, so it all looked very legitimate. It was all exactly the way that we have received requests before, especially getting a check from the company,” he said. Moss Construction had nothing to do with the request.
In 2022, Americans lost over $10 billion to internet scams. The most highly reported crimes were phishing expeditions, with 300,497 victims reporting over $52 million in losses in 2022, according to the FBI. Phishing, defined as "the use of unsolicited email, text messages, and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company requesting personal, financial, and/or login credentials," is frequently successful because phishing emails will often resemble those from people victims know personally, prompting them to click on unsecured links.
“Clearly, we have to come up with a better protocol to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” the Mayor said.
About the writer: Matthew Woodruff is an Independent Journalist and Author who believes in Freely Accessible, Honest and Open Reporting.