Scammers steal more than $1.4 million from two Florida cities by redirecting construction invoice payments

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ocala international aiprort
Image of the Ocala International Airport General Aviation Terminal construction project (City of Ocala)

Two Florida cities have recently been conned out of a total of more than $1.4 million by scammers posing as construction company representatives.

The Ocala Star Banner reports that the city paid an October invoice it thought was due to Ausley Construction for more than $742,000 for work on the Ocala International Airport terminal.

The invoice, in fact, was real for work on the $6.3 million project — but scammers managed to convince a city senior accounting specialist employee through an email instruction to change bank routing and account number information. The city paid the invoice issued on Oct. 17 the next day — but didn’t realize anything was wrong until Ausley reported it hadn’t been paid on Oct. 22.

City officials aren’t sure how the fraud artists obtained enough information about the accounts to pull off the scam.

The southwest Florida city of Naples reported in August that it had been scammed by  someone posing as a representative of Wright Construction Group, The Miami Herald reported.  That person made a “change of bank account” request on June 24, according to Naples’ city manager Charles Chapman.

The fraudsters collected $700,000 in that incident.

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