April 6, 2017

Scam costs city of Albuquerque $400,000

Andy Lyman

Albuquerque City Hall

The City of Albuquerque was hit with a scam, costing the city at least $400,000.

That’s according to the State Auditor, who reported the state’s largest city was the second state entity to be hit with the same fraud scheme this week. Earlier this week, the State Auditor reported the scheme resulted in a loss of $200,000 for a construction project at the San Antonio Elementary School in Socorro.

Both the Socorro Consolidated School District and the City of Albuquerque contacted the State Auditor’s Office after they learned of the scam.

The scheme involves a request by scammers to request to change vendor payment information.

“Unfortunately, the City of Albuquerque was hit by a scam that cost it over $400,000 in taxpayer dollars,” stated State Auditor Tim Keller. “This is now the second entity in New Mexico that we are aware of that was tricked into diverting money to imposters posing as legitimate businesses. We want to again remind all governments to use the best practices we’ve outlined to prevent this.”

NM Political Report reached out to a spokeswoman for the city to ask about the scam and what steps the city has taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

After the Socorro school district fell victim to the scheme, the State Auditor issued a fraud prevention alert, which went to all governmental entities in the state.

According to the alert, the scammers contact employees handling financial transactions for an agency either through an email or a routine phone call. The imposters then send an email that “appears to be from a known vendor” and asks for the payment method to be changed. The State Auditor said this may involve changing payment to direct deposit, sending the payment to a new address or requesting a wire transfer to a different bank or bank account.