MKE bank at center of $3.5M scam, loss for KC business | #phishing | #scams


A scammer posed as the chief financial officer and an executive vice president of Kansas City-based construction company JE Dunn and stole nearly $3.6 million from one of the company’s clients in Atlanta, according to newly unsealed federal court records.The fraudulent scheme in 2018 became public Wednesday in Wisconsin where one of the bank accounts used in the fraud was located.12 News Investigates uncovered the scam in federal court records and worked with sister station KMBC 9 Investigates in Kansas City to reveal new information.The scam targeted Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta by getting the organization’s accounts payable department to switch bank account information it had on file for JE Dunn, according to the court records.JE Dunn, in 2018, announced it won a bid to serve as a general contractor over Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s new 70-acre campus.A grand jury indicted Aminat Omotayo Adeniyi Ajao, of Chicago, Illinois, in November 2021 on 13 counts in connection with the scheme, including conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, money laundering — concealment, unlawful financial transactions, and false statements to a financial institution, according to federal court records.Adeniyi Ajao has pleaded not guilty in federal court.An email to Adeniyi Ajao’s attorney was not immediately returned.THE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SCAMThe scam started on Nov. 21, 2018, when someone posing as the chief financial officer of JE Dunn requested a direct deposit form to update the company’s bank information on file with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, according to court records.Those records say the fraudulent email was sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta from an email address identical to JE Dunn’s CFO, except the domain ended in .org instead of .com.The court records lay out an elaborate scheme after that initial November email to defraud Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta:On Dec. 17, 2o18 the person impersonating JE Dunn’s CFO emailed a fraudulent letter to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta accounts payable department requesting a bank account change along with a completed Internal Revenue Service form W-9. The email looked like JE Dunn’s letterhead and was allegedly signed by JE Dunn’s CFO and executive vice president. The W-9 form also looked authentic, signed by the JE Dunn CFO. The letter instructed Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to change JE Dunn’s account to a Wells Fargo account.On Dec. 27, 2018, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta transferred $3,562,164.00 to the fraudulent Wells Fargo bank account for payment for construction services.The organization discovered the fraud after JE Dunn reached out about a missing payment on Jan. 10, 2019, and contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.Court documents say the nearly $3.6 million went to a bank account set up at a Wells Fargo branch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Adeniyi Ajao in August 2018. Those documents say multiple transfers went from that account into other bank accounts controlled by Adeniyi Ajao.RESPONSE FROM CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA AND JE DUNNChildren’s Healthcare of Atlanta was able to salvage nearly $2.6 million after employees contacted the FBI, according to court records.A spokeswoman said the organization is still working to recover another $800,000 in bank accounts frozen by the FBI.”Following an inquiry from JE Dunn Construction in January 2019, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta identified fraudulent activity by an unidentified third party. Children’s immediately contacted its bank and the FBI, and began cooperating with the ongoing investigation,” said the organization’s emailed statement to KMBC 9 Investigates.JE Dunn Chief Legal Officer Tom Whittaker told KMBC 9 Investigates the company encourages all companies to conduct due diligence with financial or confidential information sent electronically with JE Dunn or any other service provider.”These scams and fraudulent activity are common in the business community, and we never want any of our clients or partners to fall victim,” Whittaker said in an emailed statement.Whittaker said the company regularly communicates with clients to not reply to emails requesting a change in payment terms.”We work with our banks and federal authorities to investigate whenever we receive suspicious emails,” Whittaker said.KMBC 9 Investigates also spoke with technology expert Burton Kelso. He said the scammers did their homework to pull off the scheme.Kelso said it is important for all companies to have multiple layers of protection over financial transactions.”It’s easy for criminals to figure out who’s the top dog at a company and compose an email that’s going to make people respond and think it’s coming from an authority figure,” he said.JE Dunn”s full statement from Chief Legal Officer Tom Whittaker to KMBC 9 Investigates is below:”As more business is performed electronically, which is good for productivity, it increases risk for people to take advantage of technology for fraudulent purposes. We encourage all companies to conduct due diligence as it relates to any financial or confidential information conveyed electronically with JE Dunn or any other service provider. These scams and fraudulent activity are common in the business community, and we never want any of our clients or partners to fall victim. For anyone doing business in this industry, should you be contacted to change wiring or payment instructions, please directly verify the validity of that request through a trusted source. It can never hurt to get another level of verification in place before making a financial transaction or releasing confidential information.”At JE Dunn, we regularly communicate with our clients to not reply to emails requesting a change in payment terms, and we work with our banks and federal authorities to investigate whenever we receive suspicious emails.”If you have any tips about scams or fraud you would like to share with 12 News Investigates, email investigate@wisn.com.

A scammer posed as the chief financial officer and an executive vice president of Kansas City-based construction company JE Dunn and stole nearly $3.6 million from one of the company’s clients in Atlanta, according to newly unsealed federal court records.

The fraudulent scheme in 2018 became public Wednesday in Wisconsin where one of the bank accounts used in the fraud was located.

12 News Investigates uncovered the scam in federal court records and worked with sister station KMBC 9 Investigates in Kansas City to reveal new information.

The scam targeted Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta by getting the organization’s accounts payable department to switch bank account information it had on file for JE Dunn, according to the court records.

JE Dunn, in 2018, announced it won a bid to serve as a general contractor over Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s new 70-acre campus.

A grand jury indicted Aminat Omotayo Adeniyi Ajao, of Chicago, Illinois, in November 2021 on 13 counts in connection with the scheme, including conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, money laundering — concealment, unlawful financial transactions, and false statements to a financial institution, according to federal court records.

Adeniyi Ajao has pleaded not guilty in federal court.

An email to Adeniyi Ajao’s attorney was not immediately returned.

THE MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SCAM

The scam started on Nov. 21, 2018, when someone posing as the chief financial officer of JE Dunn requested a direct deposit form to update the company’s bank information on file with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, according to court records.

Those records say the fraudulent email was sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta from an email address identical to JE Dunn’s CFO, except the domain ended in .org instead of .com.

The court records lay out an elaborate scheme after that initial November email to defraud Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta:

  • On Dec. 17, 2o18 the person impersonating JE Dunn’s CFO emailed a fraudulent letter to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta accounts payable department requesting a bank account change along with a completed Internal Revenue Service form W-9. The email looked like JE Dunn’s letterhead and was allegedly signed by JE Dunn’s CFO and executive vice president. The W-9 form also looked authentic, signed by the JE Dunn CFO. The letter instructed Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to change JE Dunn’s account to a Wells Fargo account.
  • On Dec. 27, 2018, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta transferred $3,562,164.00 to the fraudulent Wells Fargo bank account for payment for construction services.
  • The organization discovered the fraud after JE Dunn reached out about a missing payment on Jan. 10, 2019, and contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Court documents say the nearly $3.6 million went to a bank account set up at a Wells Fargo branch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin by Adeniyi Ajao in August 2018. Those documents say multiple transfers went from that account into other bank accounts controlled by Adeniyi Ajao.

RESPONSE FROM CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA AND JE DUNN

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta was able to salvage nearly $2.6 million after employees contacted the FBI, according to court records.

A spokeswoman said the organization is still working to recover another $800,000 in bank accounts frozen by the FBI.

“Following an inquiry from JE Dunn Construction in January 2019, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta identified fraudulent activity by an unidentified third party. Children’s immediately contacted its bank and the FBI, and began cooperating with the ongoing investigation,” said the organization’s emailed statement to KMBC 9 Investigates.

JE Dunn Chief Legal Officer Tom Whittaker told KMBC 9 Investigates the company encourages all companies to conduct due diligence with financial or confidential information sent electronically with JE Dunn or any other service provider.

“These scams and fraudulent activity are common in the business community, and we never want any of our clients or partners to fall victim,” Whittaker said in an emailed statement.

Whittaker said the company regularly communicates with clients to not reply to emails requesting a change in payment terms.

“We work with our banks and federal authorities to investigate whenever we receive suspicious emails,” Whittaker said.

KMBC 9 Investigates also spoke with technology expert Burton Kelso. He said the scammers did their homework to pull off the scheme.

Kelso said it is important for all companies to have multiple layers of protection over financial transactions.

“It’s easy for criminals to figure out who’s the top dog at a company and compose an email that’s going to make people respond and think it’s coming from an authority figure,” he said.

JE Dunn”s full statement from Chief Legal Officer Tom Whittaker to KMBC 9 Investigates is below:

“As more business is performed electronically, which is good for productivity, it increases risk for people to take advantage of technology for fraudulent purposes. We encourage all companies to conduct due diligence as it relates to any financial or confidential information conveyed electronically with JE Dunn or any other service provider. These scams and fraudulent activity are common in the business community, and we never want any of our clients or partners to fall victim. For anyone doing business in this industry, should you be contacted to change wiring or payment instructions, please directly verify the validity of that request through a trusted source. It can never hurt to get another level of verification in place before making a financial transaction or releasing confidential information.

“At JE Dunn, we regularly communicate with our clients to not reply to emails requesting a change in payment terms, and we work with our banks and federal authorities to investigate whenever we receive suspicious emails.”

If you have any tips about scams or fraud you would like to share with 12 News Investigates, email investigate@wisn.com.



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