Georgia man charged with cyber crime that cost Sedgwick County $566,000


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Georgia man has been arrested on federal charges for carrying out an e-mail spoofing scheme that cost Sedgwick County $566,000.

Authorities say Sedgwick County made an October $566,000 payment to Wichita construction company Cornejo & Sons for a road project, but that payment through the Automated Clearing House never reached Cornejo. Governments and businesses use the ACH to pay for benefits, payroll, bills and business transactions.

Prosecutors allege James had sent an email to the county purporting to be from Cornejo’s CEO, with a form attached requesting payments be made electronically to a new Wells Fargo account in Georgia.

Prosecutors allege James fraudulently received the payment.DOCUMENT | James Criminal Complaint

County officials say they are thrilled a suspect is in custody.

“Great news for the citizens of Sedgwick County, I think this should engender confidence in our law enforcement system,” said Sedgwick County Commission Chair, Dave Unruh. “It was a slower process than many of us would have liked, but they stuck to it and now they have apprehended someone.”

Attorneys say tracking cyber crimes and gathering evidence can lead to a conviction. It just takes some good detective work, and the chain of evidence has to be followed.

“Whether it’s a horse thief or cyber con man, two things are always the same, the accused is presumed innocent and the prosecutor must convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of its accusation,” said KSN Legal Analyst Dan Monnat. “The law is written so that criminals can be caught doing modern crimes. We’ve seen that from fingerprints to DNA from wiretaps to snapchat and from door-to-door swindles to hacking in the cloud. All you need is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

If convicted, James faces a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.  Online court records don’t show whether James has an attorney.

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