BOONE, NC (WBTV) - Appalachian State University (ASU) is getting back $1,542,442.33 officials say was stolen by fraudsters posing as a construction company who did work for the college.
According to the District Attorney's Office, around December 2016, one or more alleged fraudsters convinced ASU staff to forward $1.9 million to companies operated by them. According to court records, the fraudsters sent ASU emails posing as a legitimate finance technician for Rodgers Builders, the company building ASU's new health sciences facility.
The phony finance technician reportedly sent ASU a new direct deposit form to change Rodgers Builders' previous bank information to a new account at a new bank. Officials say that after receiving the money, the alleged fraudsters used numerous bank wire transfers to launder the money among various companies.
When Rodgers Builders contacted ASU about not receiving their due payment, the ASU employee contacted the company's finance technician and determined he had not sent the email about the change in bank accounts.
That's when the FBI was contacted.
"Today's announcement is an example of the results we get when we use civil forfeiture laws to swiftly stop crime and provide financial relief to victims of fraud," said U.S. Attorney Murray.
Murray continued, "In this case, the FBI located and seized the stolen funds even before criminal investigative targets had been identified or a criminal case had been filed. Under these circumstances, civil forfeiture is the only area of law that enables law enforcement to swiftly obtain warrants to secure stolen funds, and to prevent the perpetrators of fraud from accessing them. Identifying and seizing ill-gotten gains and returning forfeited funds to victims is a priority for my office. I will use all of the tools at my disposal to make victims whole, and civil asset forfeiture is an invaluable tool in that arsenal."