Schleicher County ISD Superintendent Robert Gibson confirmed this week that the school fell victim to an email scam that resulted in an employee’s payroll check being direct deposited into a bank in South Dakota.

The school learned that there had been a problem when the employee complained about not receiving their pay. Another paycheck in the amount of $3,884 was issued.

“We immediately contacted the Schleicher County Sheriff’s Department and Deputy Kevin Herbert began an investigation,” Gibson said.

SCISD Technology Director J.D. Doyle was also alerted and he started digging through the chain of emails in which the scammer at first inquired about the date that a banking change would need to be made, and then ordered the direct deposit to be sent to the South Dakota bank just ahead of the deadline.

Doyle remembered that his wife Charlyn, who is technology director at San Angelo ISD, had dealt with a similar situation. She provided the name of federal investigator. That’s how Special Agent Jeremy Sandor, an investigator in the San Angelo office of ICE/Homeland Security became involved.

Sandor was able to contact the South Dakota bank and learned that a fake account had been established there in the name of the SCISD employee, complete with social security number and driver’s license number. But the money wasn’t in the bank for long as it transferred out almost immediately to a Western Union account. The funds then rolled over onto a prepaid credit card.

Sandor offered little hope that the school’s money would be recovered.

Gibson explained that the employee received their paycheck and that the school has filed on its insurance policy. He said he expects the insurance company will cover all but $1,000 of the loss.

Gibson further states that new payroll procedures are being implemented in hopes of preventing similar problems and he urges others in the community to be cautious about such things.

“I’d almost rather be robbed at gunpoint that be victimized by a sneak thief,” Gibson said. “It’s unlikely the culprit will ever be caught, but I hope so. At the very least I hope others learn from this and we all become more cautious.”