A Georgia man will now spend two years and three months in federal prison for his role in an email parody scheme that cost Sedgwick County more than $566,000.
George S. James, a 49-year-old from Brookhaven, Georgia, was on Wednesday sentenced to 27 months in prison, according to U.S Attorney Tom Beall. James pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
According to James, on the 7th of October 2016, he came in contact with someone, identified as A.H, who asked to deposit money into his account. Sedgwick County then sent about $566,088 to his bank account in Georgia, thinking it was the construction company.
James then said he transferred part of the money he received to a bank account in Shanghai, China, and to another account in the Deutsche Bank in Bremen, Germany, according to Beall. He also spent part of the remaining money.
In his defense, James stated that the scheme wasn’t his idea since the person known as A.H contacted him and asked to deposit money into his Wells Fargo account.
As to why he didn’t report the incident to the authorities is still unknown.
The alleged person who contacted James also sent an email to Sedgwick County stating that he was representing the company Cornejo and Sons. He also requested the county to send future payments to a new bank account number at Wells Fargo.
The county later found that the email wasn’t from Cornejo.
According to records, the staff came to know about the fact that, Cornejo & Sons company never received the money neither did they request an accounting change on the 26th of October, 2016. The County staff then reported the incident to the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office.
Cornejo and Sons Company in June had a $550,064.19 contract to work on the project dubbed the “Bond Tekk” which is part of the county’s preventative road maintenance. The project later experienced an increase of $16,024.71 which took the total cost to $566,088.90.
Attorney Beall later commended the FBI, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, the Wichita Police Department and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Metzger for their contributions on this case.
Now the issue of cybercrime is not new, but involving state counties is something that is surprising.
Many cybercriminals in performing their dubious acts, try as much as possible to avoid any problem with the authorities until they get caught of course. So defrauding a county with enough resources and support to locate you any time sounds a little careless.
However, with all the cybercrimes going on as of late, some counties have started to put in place measures to combat cybercrime and cybercriminals.
Just recently the Benton County Sheriff’s office in Arkansas unveiled a new program which aims to help tackle cybercriminals. The initiative was to tackle cybercrime through the mining of bitcoin. The primary goal of the initiative will focus on people involved with child pornography as well as those using the dark web to screw vulnerable young people.
Although this initiative came as a surprise to many, authorities stated that the use of bitcoins and the Dark Web activities are rampant in the Arkansas area. They further made a bold claim stating that the only place in the mainstream where it’s not frequent is with the law enforcement agencies.
“That’s why joining them by using their own tool is imperative,” they said. Benton County’s cybercrime detective also added that: “No question whatsoever that those activities are happening, and criminals are using bitcoin,” he said. “The problem with it is the anonymity behind the Tor network and the expense we will go through to reach a dead end. There are easier ways of catching people who are actively hunting children.”
Detective David Undiano also commented about this initiative, saying that mining Bitcoin was also cheaper than buying the online cryptocurrency through exchange websites.
“People are selling child pornography on the dark web and on the internet. They are accepting bitcoins, not payments. We can’t use the sheriff’s office credit card, and we can’t exchange child pornography. We need some type currency to get this and then identify who we are getting it from. That way, we can go arrest that person,” he stated.