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Meet the hero who sussed out a $1.7m scam

MICHELLE Dolliver could very well be Bundaberg council's hero - sussing out a plan by scammers to steal $1.7m.

A similar scam cost the Brisbane City Council almost half a million dollars.

But the quick-thinking council employee knew something was up when a call came through requesting $1.7m in payments destined for the contractor currently engaged in the Multiuse Sport and Recreation facility project, go through to a different BSB and account number than usual.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said that in late July this year a man telephoned Council's Accounts Payable Section alleging to be an employee of the contractor.

"The man asked staff if scheduled payments were due to be made to the contractor and it was confirmed that an amount of $1.7 million was proposed for transaction that same day.

"The caller was adamant that bank account details including BSB number and account number be altered for current and future transactions.

"He was advised that correspondence on a company letterhead and deposit slip would need to be supplied prior to any change to account information.

"The caller promised the information would be sent through immediately."

That was when Ms Dolliver knew something just wasn't right. 

"When this did not eventuate within two hours, the Accounts Payable officer, Michelle Dolliver became suspicious and contacted the contractor and discovered the attempted fraud," Cr Dempsey said. 

"The matter was reported to police and they undertook certain investigative actions."

Unfortunately, not all councils were immune to the scam. 

Brisbane City Council sacked its chief internal auditor and introduced a raft of new measures after falling victim to the same scam that had targeted Bundaberg Regional Council.

The ABC reported that Lord Mayor Graham Quirk ordered an independent investigation after scammers stole nearly half a million dollars from the council.

The council's chief internal auditor, who had been in the position for 16 years,  was fired after the incident, with Cr Quirk saying that though staff had not been directly responsible for the scam, there could have been better strategies in place to ensure the council didn't fall prey.

"This case was much more than the result of simple human error," he said in September.

"This sophisticated fraud has taken advantage of a loophole in council's processes, where the procedures were not effectively managing changes to supplier payment information."

Topics:  bundaberg regional council scams



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