Audit: Livingston schools paid scammers more than $2 million

LIVINGSTON, La. — The Livingston Parish School Board paid more than two million dollars to scammers last year, a new report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office shows.

The payments totaled $2,251,861 and were issued to “bad actors” from January 12, 2022, to February 8, 2022, the report shows.

The audit says that the school board received emails requesting changes in electronic payment for two vendors. The emails, the audit says, were “generated by a bad actor posing as the legitimate vendors.”

The changes that were requested were made without following the procedure in place to call the vendors to verify the changes, the audit indicates.

“Since the requested changes took place without verifying the changes, several EFT (electronic funs transfer) payments were made to fraudulent bank accounts,” the audit report said.

It wasn’t until the real vendor contacted the school board to follow up on a payment that the issue was caught.

The school board notified local law enforcement, the Legislative Auditor’s Office and began an investigation. The school board was able to cancel the payment with the help of local law enforcement and federal assistance, the report said.

“The amount of funds recovered was $1,907,894. $343,967 was not recovered and an insurance claim has been filed,” the report reads.

The Legislative Auditor’s Office says that an investigation into the incident continues and that the scammers have not yet been identified.

They said in their report of the incident that Livingston Parish Schools should “strengthen” procedures in place to verify EFT payment detail changes by adding a change request form.

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