Platte County Commissioners give treasurer one week to repay funds lost to email scam

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PLATTE CITY, Mo. –The Platte County treasurer responsible for paying out more than $48,000 to an email scammer in May has been given one week to repay the $20,000 in taxpayer money yet to be recovered.

Platte County Treasurer Rob Willard said he received an email on May 27 he thought was from a presiding commissioner of Platte County. That email requested a wire transfer to pay state taxes amounting to $48,220.

Platte County Presiding Commissioner Rob Schieber said that Wells Fargo had transferred $28,000 on June 6 back to the bank Platte County uses — United Missouri Bank.

Commissioners sent a letter on Wednesday asking Willard to personally pay back the remaining $20,000. Willard has admitted fully that he did not follow proper protocol in transferring the money.

“Because of the nature of this direct request from the commissioner, because it was Friday afternoon, and it seemed to be a very time sensitive manner, I expedited the process,” Willard said at the time. “I was given routing information from the fraudulent email and the wire was completed at about 3:30.”

Hours later, Willard spoke to an actual commission and realized he’d been duped.

“It is a shocking feeling, confusing feeling, immediately returned to the courthouse, got on the phone with the sheriff’s department, the FBI, filed a report,” Willard said.

The Platte County Commission sent a letter to Willard saying that he “make the taxpaying public of Platte County whole by personally compensating the Platte County Treasury for the shortage caused by the unauthorized wire transfer which you implemented.”

Willard said in a statement that he is considering his options, and hopes to get rectify the situation as soon as possible.

“The whole goal is to make sure we recover any and all money we can for the taxpayers, whether that is through personal funds or through insurance and bonding, that is something that I am considering. My hope is that we can move forward, get this matter resolved and focus on the issues that matter in Platte County,” Willard said in a statement.

In addition to the $20,000 still unrecovered, the Commission is expecting Willard to reimburse the Treasury for the expenses incurred by the County in dealing with the situation, such as attorney fees.

“This is new territory for us. We have been in many meetings with our County Counselor trying to direct us on how to go forward with this….and from that we had sent out letters to the treasurer and the county prosecutor,” Commissioner Duane Soper said in a statement. “We are awaiting their response. Rob Willard is a very nice person. It is an unfortunate incident, but we need to be thorough on how we go about looking at this.”

The Commission’s letter gives Willard one week from the date it was sent to come up with the money, at which point if Willard has not repaid the funds, the Commission will file a claim against Willard’s public official surety bond, which is essentially an insurance policy Willard had in place.

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