Over $740,000 of Benton County dollars paid to fraudulent construction contractor

Money

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. –Benton County became the victim of a scam, costing them more than $740,000. Thankfully, all but 3% was recovered by federal authorities.

According to Benton County officials, the money was meant for building construction projects. In October 2019, a fraudulent email was sent to the county by an unknown number of people, claiming to represent a Benton County contractor.

In other emails, payment information from the county was requested. Not knowing it was a scam, real invoices were sent to the fake contractor. It totaled $740,216.79 of Benton County funds in November 2019.

Officials later became aware of the fraudulent account and a federal investigation started.

Authorities found that the fraudulent account had been frozen and closed by the bank. This didn’t happen before the deposit of the Benton County funds. $23,015.35 of the funds had already been debited to multiple small transactions.

Federal investigators were able to seize the remaining 97% of the money.

“We are continuing to work with federal authorities to have the seized funds returned to us as quickly as possible,” the county said. “The County is currently reviewing our internal policies and procedures to minimize the risk of a similar incident occurring in the future.”