05/10/2004: You have to wonder here who's more stupid....
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that "dozens of people" somehow managed to plug into the City of Washington Park, Illinois's general funds, via an online bill paying service, and use city moneys to pay their own personal bills, such as "for cell phones, utilities and mortgages". Apparently, such charges showed up in the city's bank statements for well over a year (from September, 2002 to December, 2003), with city employees remaining silent about the electronic funds transfers out of the city accounts. Especially strange, since the city doesn't use electronic funds transfers to pay its own bills. But even better, apparently the people using Washington Park's money to pay their bills were apparently brazen enough to use their own names in the transactions:
Dozens of people regularly used the general fund of the bankrupt village of Washington Park to pay their monthly bills, including those for cell phones, utilities and mortgages, authorities say.You just have to hope that the people who pulled this off didn't really use their real names. How can you be smart enough to pull off a stunt like this, yet dumb enough to attach your name to it? But then again, as my old civil procedure teacher was fond of saying: "Criminals are stupid. That's why they get caught."
Most of the money changed hands electronically - through an online bill-paying service. With a few clicks of a computer mouse, money flowed from Washington Park's bank account to pay off personal bills at scores of businesses.
The scam continued from September 2002 until last December. The loss is put at $150,000, and a federal criminal investigation is under way.
Authorities said the scam was relatively indiscreet, with the names of suspected scammers appearing month after month on bank statements.
Village officials said they were shocked that city workers hadn't alerted them to the scam. That's because the village doesn't pay any of its bills through electronic fund transfers.
Washington Park officials showed bank statements to a Post-Dispatch reporter that contained the names of 38 people who had used the village's general fund to pay their bills.
Mayor Sherman Sorrell and other officials say they do not recognize the names and don't know how people with no known connection to the village obtained the necessary information to pull off the scam, such as account and routing numbers.
Len on 05.10.04 @ 05:33 PM CST