SANTA FE ― New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller sent a Risk Advisory to government agencies and schools across the state alerting officials to a wire transfer scam targeting public money. Scammers posing as high-level government officials wrote emails directing financial staff to make wire transfers in large amounts.
Employees at Zuni Public Schools, Deming Public Schools and San Miguel County initiated transfers to the scammers totaling over $100,000 from public funds. The schools were able to stop the transfers before the funds were processed but the county was not, resulting in $38,000 in stolen funds. The three cases were reported to the Office of the State Auditor (OSA), and the OSA is aware that other agencies around the state have been targeted.
“Most folks are familiar with various types of personal email financial scams and unfortunately the tactic is spreading to prey on government employees who may feel intimidated by an email that appears to be from their boss,” Keller said. “We’re reminding folks to stick to normal procedures regardless of the situation. One key to safeguarding public funds is to maintain a ‘tone at the top’ that helps staff feel comfortable asking questions about unusual orders from up the chain.”