ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – In January of 2021, Escanaba Department of Public Safety began an investigation into a possible fraud complaint where the City of Escanaba was the victim. The City had established a working partnership with Proxima Management to develop the old County Jail and Chamber of Commerce sites with grant funding.
The City received an email on December 28, 2020 that appeared to be from Proxima Management with an invoice attached asking for $28,949.14 to be paid out directly to a vendor. After the money was wired and the invoice paid, it was discovered that Proxima Management’s email had been hacked. According to the IP address used, the hacker was from a location in Cape Town in the Western Cap of South Africa.
The investigation led to an elderly woman in California as the recipient of the money. The FBI assisted and made contact with the elderly woman in California. As the investigation progressed, it was discovered that this woman had been involved in similar “scams” in the past. The investigation has been closed due to the location of the suspects and the logistics of getting the suspects to Delta County for possible prosecuation.
The investigation failed to reveal any involvement or fault of City employees or local individuals. However, as the victim of this “scam,” the City has taken steps to prevent this from happening again.
Per the FBI, what occurred is referred to as a “business email compromise.” Escanaba Department of Public Safety says they would like to make the public aware of the FBI Business Email Compromise website: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/business-email-compromise