The “Spear Phishing” scam was a targeted e-mail scam which was sent to several county treasurers. In Utah, San Juan County and Emery County wired funds to the scammers, who were posing as consultants to county commissioners.
The Emery County funds were wired to a bank in Florida. It is not known at the press deadline if any of the Emery County funds have been recovered.
Investigators from the State of Utah and the State of Texas are involved in the investigation, which is ongoing.
In addition, the Utah State Auditor complete an investigation into the financial controls of the county.
The funds originally had been deposited in June, 2016 into an account at JP Morgan / Chase Bank in a wire transfer from San Juan County Treasurer Glenis Pearson. Pearson almost immediately became suspicious and notified authorities soon after approving the wire transfer.
When the bank was notified, the majority of the funds were still in the initial account and were eventually returned to the county within a 90-day period. Another $3,000, which had been transferred to another account held by the same account owner, may also be returned.
If the $3,000 is returned, the total loss to the county will be approximately $2,000.
On June 15, 2016, San Juan County Treasurer Glenis Pearson received an email message, apparently from Commissioner Phil Lyman, asking Pearson to wire funds to a consultant who had helped the county.
The message appeared to be from Lyman’s email account and Pearson responded to the email with several questions, which were answered to her satisfaction.
The County Treasurer wired $48,620 to the bank in East Orange, NJ.
Pearson said that her initial suspicions became more pronounced when she continued to receive e-mails from the address asking her to send funds to a foreign bank.
Pearson said she notified authorities within an hour of wiring the funds.