Lately, email scams have been a growing issue targeting people across Canada. One of the biggest victims recently was a government worker in Ontario who just lost $130K taxpayer dollars to an email scam. The victim, in this case, was Marian Simulik, who is the treasurer for the City of Ottawa.
The email involved in this incident wasn't one of those generic, fake e-transfer type of scams, but rather a very specific, targetted attack aimed at Simulik. Ottawa's Auditor General office reveals that last July, Simulik received an email from an account appearing to belong to one of her colleagues, Steve Kenellakos who is the city manager.
In the email, the scammer posing at Kenellakos asked Simulik to wire transfer him $98,000 USD in order to pay a supplier for the city. That adds up to almost $130,000 CAD. Unfortunately for Simulik, she actually sent it.
Following a brief email exchange back and forth, Simulik transferred the money to a US bank account. It wasn't until later in that week when she got another email from the scammers asking for more money while she was actually in the same room as Kenellakos that she realized something was up.
When she asked Kenellakos about the email, he knew nothing about it and that's the moment Simulik realized she had been scammed out of taxpayer dollars.
Fortunately for Simulik, the money may be recovered. Shortly after the incident happened, Ottawa Police were notified by RCMP that the US Secret Service had actually arrest a Florida man who is believed to be connected to the scam. He was found to have a bank account with some of the city's money in it.
While this is good news, Ottawa's Auditor General has already revealed that they know they won't be able to recover all of the money lost in the scam, which means those taxpayer dollars are gone for good.
After learning the news that their taxpayer dollars of gone, people are calling for Simulik to be fired immediately.
As it stands right now though, Simulik is actually going to be moved into the position as Interim Chief Financial Officer of the city this July. She will then retire once a new CFO is appointed.
In a statement yesterday, Simulik said that this scam and the fact that she fell victim to it has affected her greatly, both personally and professionally.