Mid-Michigan county official quits after mistakenly wiring $50K - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan county official quits after mistakenly wiring $50K

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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM

An official in a small Michigan county has resigned after being tricked into wiring $50,000 to an overseas bank account.

Shiawassee County apparently was the victim of a phishing scam. Financial administrator Patricia Fitnich believed she was replying to an email from another county official about paying a bill for research and development.

The money was supposed to go to a bank in Texas, according to Commissioner Daniel McMaster, but actually was transferred to a South African bank.

A county administrator, Michael Herendeen, confirmed to TV5 Fitnich had "done a number of fine things" over two years but she realized "this was a major mistake."

Police are investigating. Officials will see if insurance will cover the loss, but Herendeen says it seems unlikely.

Fitnich will not face any criminal investigation, according to Herendeen, and the county is now working to fill the county financial administrator position.

The Board of Commissioners is looking into ways to make sure this won't happen again, according to McMaster.

"There should be a process. I know there's a process for smaller amounts of money. There is a process when we approve things at the board. Not exactly sure on how this was able to happen," McMaster said.

Taxpayers are not happy.

"We have been paying in a number of years as far as taxes. Something like that to happen is very unfortunate," said Tim Naranjo, resident.

McMaster doesn't think the county will be able to get the money back, but he is confident county leaders can work together to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"We need to get over the embarrassment of this and look forward to having a hearing to find out more and to find out if our protocol needs to change," McMaster said.

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