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Texas county official wants resignations after $525K scam

December 18, 2018

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The top elected official in a South Texas county is calling for the resignation of two officials for failing to protect the county from an electronic payment scam that cost it more than $525,000.

An outside review determined that no individual Galveston County employee was to blame for the loss of money. But Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said Monday that auditor Randall Rice and purchasing agent Rufus Crowder should be held responsible.

Henry acknowledged that he doesn’t have the authority to force Rice and Crowder out of their positions, but he called on their boards to take action.

“The purchasing agent reports to a purchasing agent board and the auditor reports to a state district judge board, so all six state district judges appoint him and can remove him,” Henry said.

Both Rice and Crowder said they have no intention of resigning.

The county discovered the theft in June involving a scammer who was pretending over email to represent a Houston construction company scheduled to repair roads. County officials unknowingly made an electronic payment of more than $525,000 to the scammer’s account.

Crowder said the review conducted by a private firm, the Dawson Forensic Group, absolved a single office or person from being blamed for the scam. The report did note the county’s lack of safeguards to prevent the scam.

Investigators found that the county purchasing department didn’t have a validation system in place to ensure new bank accounts were valid.

The county’s treasurer, auditor, purchasing agent and information technology office have since implemented new security infrastructure to identify future problems as they occur.

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