Ann Scott, wife of Florida governor, swindled out of $350k in ‘sophisticated’ cybercrime scheme
Ann Scott, the wife of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, was twice targeted by online scams that resulted in the theft of $350,000, a report revealed Wednesday.
“The First Lady was the victim of sophisticated email phishing scams involving her personal finances,” confirmed McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for the Scotts.
The scams occurred in 2012 and 2014, but each went unreported until The Tampa Bay Times recently learned of details concerning both efforts and the subsequent state and federal investigations that ensued.
In the first case, Mrs. Scott’s accountant was tricked into making two wire transfers totaling more than $349,000 after receiving an email from someone masquerading as the governor’s wife, the newspaper reported.
The email was sent from an account that resembled Mrs. Scott’s, but with an extra “n,” according to the newspaper.
The accountant, Cathy Gellatly, “sent the two wire transfers, thinking the request came from Ann Scott,” investigators from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement later determined, the newspaper reported.
A similar scam targeted Mrs. Scott’s finances in 2014, but no money was transferred, the report said.
“In both cases, agents were not able to identify suspects based on the information developed,” said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. “The agents believe the crimes were committed by individuals outside the U.S., using techniques to conceal their identities.”
The scams were traced to internet addresses in Nigeria, and both cases prompted investigations involving the FDLE in addition to the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, The Times reported.
Mrs. Scott’s stolen money was ultimately recovered, the report said.
None of the crimes related to official state business, said the Scotts’ spokesperson.
The scams that targeted Mrs. Scott are examples of a type of cybercrime categorized by the FBI as “Business Email Compromise” (BEC) schemes. The scams originated in Nigeria, and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has tracked over $3 billion in BEC-related losses in the last several years, according to its own accounting.