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‘There is a way to fix this’: Butler County reacts to employee payroll scam

Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds said someone obtained a county payroll direct deposit form and had one employee’s paycheck deposited into another bank. The suspect even provided the human resources person in that office with a cancelled check for the direct deposit.

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“They (the employee) were out of the office and a change request went into the HR representative and there was a fake check and form with signature provided,” Reynolds said. “So the HR representative thought they were looking at all the information that was necessary to make the requested change and turns out it wasn’t the employee making the request.”

Reynolds said the county has been attacked by potential scammers before, but no one has been successful. This particular payroll scam can’t happen again, according to Reynolds.

“This particular fraudulent attack is new and we have quickly adjusted our controls to safeguard from it happening again,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said they do not believe a fellow employee stole the cash but they are still investigating. The fraudulent bank account was closed quickly according to Reynolds. The employee whose check was stolen will be reimbursed out of the general fund.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Dan Ferguson, who used to be in charge of white collar crimes, said scammers have many ways of stealing people’s money but stopping this particular scam is pretty easy.

“I think the way to prevent this from happening is to confirm any requests for diversion of funds to a different account directly with the employee,” Ferguson said. “Bottom line is there is a way to fix this and I’m confident the auditor has.”

It is unclear how someone obtained the form but the county’s IT Director Eric Fletcher said the county’s computer systems were not hacked.

“The payroll system wasn’t compromised by the outside or the inside,” he said.

County Treasurer Nancy Nix posted the incident on her Facebook page and a Fifth Third bank employee replied he has first hand knowledge of the problem.

“I wanted to make you aware that multiple cities have contacted me in the last few days saying there was an attempt to defraud them by having them change the direct deposit information for one of their employees (typically a higher level employee, likely because they would have a higher direct deposit amount),” the post reads in part.

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