Treasurer gives update on bank fraud

By JORDAN KAUFMAN

Kern County Treasurer-Tax Collector

On Feb. 3, potential fraudulent transactions were discovered in the Kern Community College District and the Kern County Superintendent of Schools’ clearing bank accounts. Working with our bank, Wells Fargo, and the two districts involved, the fraud was confirmed.

As soon as the fraud was detected, an independent criminal investigation was initiated and is underway through local and federal authorities to catch the perpetrators of this crime. Because of the ongoing investigation, the information that can be shared is limited. I can confirm that this fraudulent activity was isolated to the two districts’ clearing accounts and did not affect any other accounts in the treasury pool. The investigators have also confirmed that providing aggregate amounts will not compromise the criminal investigation.

The recovery phase is in full swing, and we have already recovered over 60 percent of the funds taken as a result of the fraud. Recovery efforts are ongoing, and we continue go get money back every day.

Determining the extent of the fraudulent activity has required close cooperation with the Kern Community College District, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and Wells Fargo Bank, and we now know the amounts that were taken from the schools’ accounts. The final tally of fraudulent activity in the Kern Community College District clearing account is approximately $16.4 million, of which we have already recovered approximately $10.4 million.

The final tally of fraudulent activity in the Kern County Superintendent of Schools clearing accounts is approximately $2.6 million, of which we have already recovered approximately $1.6 million. We are aggressively going after every penny associated with the fraudulent transactions and have insured that stringent fraud protection measures are in place.

As soon as the fraud was discovered, immediate action was taken to secure the accounts from any additional fraudulent activity.We have reached out to every district and department with bank accounts in our treasury to review with them their current bank account setup and discuss various fraud-prevention options they should consider.

I want to assure the public that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that all accounts are protected from the potential for additional fraudulent activity.

As a public official, I see transparency as critical to maintaining the public’s trust. I ask for patience from the public as we continue to work through all the details that may be forthcoming from the independent investigation.

I can be contacted at 661-868-3490 and 2servu@co.kern.ca.us.

Story First Published: 2017-03-10