CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - No county employees have been disciplined or fired after Cabarrus County was scammed out of $2.5 million. At this time, $1.7 million is still unaccounted for, and it appears no one is being held responsible for the loss.
The money was supposed to go to build a new high school, but instead the county unknowingly sent the funds meant for construction contractor Branch and Associates Inc. to scam artists who tricked them through emails, they said in a statement.
A Cabarrus County spokesperson tells FOX 46 no county employees were fired or disciplined because all county policy and procedures were followed.
“This is a case of a spoofed identity where someone posed as a vendor provided seemingly valid documentation and signed approvals,” County Manager Mike Downs said.
Law enforcement is working to track down where exactly the money went. They do know it was diverted into several accounts after the payment was made.
FOX 46 spoke with Mike Holland, a cyber security consultant who works for Charlotte-based company Fortalice, to get his insight in the costly scam.
“I don't know the particulars of this case, but it's a situation where a maturing cyber security program almost tests itself constantly. What ways might the hacker win?” Holland said.
The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners voted to dip into its emergency fund to pay the actual builders of the high school $1.7 million they were owed. The county says school construction has not been impacted.
County manager Mike Downs refused an interview Tuesday through a spokesperson. FOX 46 also tried track down Steve Morris, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, but he was unresponsive to email and phone messages, and was unavailable in person.
A county spokesperson says as an organization, they are incredible sorry this happened, and that they've put in policies and procedures to prevent it from happening again.
The county spent nearly $25,000 to bring in an expert to redesign its processes and procedures following the scam.
Cabarrus County is just one of three counties in our area that has experienced some sort of breach recently.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office website has been down for nearly a week after hackers destroyed data from within the agency's IT department in a ransomware attack, a type of cybercrime where a hacker takes an organization's data and then charges a fee to regain access to it. Rowan County has also fallen victim to a hack.