The City of Albuquerque in New Mexico fell victim to a scam involving a fake contractor who submitted an invoice for $420,000 for a real project. The city’s payroll department paid the bill.
The fraud followed another the previous week when an elementary school in Socorro was duped out of $200,000 by a fake construction company.
Rob Perry, the city’s chief administrator, confirmed that the city had paid a fake invoice for $420,000 believing that it was dealing with a construction contractor.
The fraud worked because the fake company succeeded in producing an invoice identical to the real thing, with just the number of the bank account changed.
Perry told the local KOB TV station: "I don’t want to get into which project, I’d prefer not to."
In November, KOB warned the city of a similar scam targeting a mass transit project in El Paso. At the time, the city insisted that it had checks in place that would prevent this.
Asked by the station, Perry declined to say whether the scammers posed as an Albuquerque Rapid Transit contractor.
The invoice was paid despite a warning by Tim Keller, the New Mexico state auditor, that sophisticated construction frauds were being perpetrated in the state.
When KOB asked Perry how the checks had failed, he replied: "When you ask the question about how does this happen, I think you can look at the banks around the country, the CIA themselves, the world we live in."
Image: There was speculation that the invoice was connected with the Albuquerque rapid transit project (ART)