Nigerian Scammers 1, County Treasurer 0

BY JOSEPH T. WELLS

THE WORLD'S DUMBEST FRAUDSTERS

Many Americans have received an e-mail or letter from Nigeria, claiming that the recipient can receive huge funds from an “over-invoiced” government contract or a wealthy individual who died without a will. In actuality, these are advance fee swindles where the victim must pay phony charges for the nonexistent money.

Thomas Katona, the longtime treasurer of Alcona County, Mich., was charged in January with nine counts of embezzlement by a public official after allegedly wiring more than $1.2 million in county funds to Nigerian con artists in August and September. It represented more than a quarter of the county’s entire annual budget.

—Joseph T. Wells, CPA, CFE, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners

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