Windsor Has Systems To Prevent Fraud Ottawa Suffered

A story from the City of Ottawa is a cautionary tale for all municipal governments.

The treasurer there e-mailed more than $100,000 to an account that turned out to be a scammer.

The error was discovered when the scammer tried a second time to get a larger amount of money and the treasurer checked the source.

Windsor's Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Joe Mancina says there are systems here to prevent that.

He says the payments don't get made by a single person.

"All of our invoices and payment vouchers are processed through a centralized accounts payable verification process.  So there's a practice that no funds are released unless they're processed through the AP system.  We also have a centralized vendor approval process so there's a checklist for every single vendor that goes through our system."

Mancina says they've made sure two people see every payment.

"You cannot have the same individual that approves the invoice for payment be the approver or sign off on any type of wire transfer or manual cheque payments.  So essentially our system requires we have a segregation of duties so not any one individual can do all aspects of the approving as well as authorizing and approving the wire transferor cheque payment."

He says staff have been trained to look for fraudulent behaviour as well.

"We've also undertaken mandatory fraud awareness training along with our bank.  If anyone or any staff where their job functions have any type of interactions with the bank on our side we have mandatory fraud training that we undertake for that."

After the fraud was discovered in Ottawa, an investigation by their Auditor General found there were five people able to make a payment of up to $25-million by themselves.

Authorities in the US have found a Florida man believed to be connected to the fraud and there may be a chance to get some of the money back.