Was GR Public Schools Scammed Out Of $1.4 Million?
A California couple that went from flat broke to millionaires overnight are being investigated for a possible scam of insurance funds from the GRPS.
In an investigative piece posted to the Detroit News web site last night, Robert Snell is reporting that at least $1.4 million and possibly $2.8 million were scammed from the Grand Rapids School System.
According to the story a federal investigation is on going and involves a couple based in Beverly Hills, CA who deny any wrongdoing.
So how did the scam land so much money?
The scam began in Grand Rapids on July 21, when a scam e-mail was sent from one clerical employee in the school system to another saying there was a new bank routing number to send money owed to their health insurance provider, MESSA Wellness.
When the employee charged with sending the payments, identified in the article as Bill Shefferly, checked in person with the woman who had supposedly sent the e-mail, Amy Robinson, she began contacting MESSA.
In the meantime another e-mail came to Shefferly, allegedly from Robinson, telling him to "kindly proceed" with sending the payments to the new bank account, so he did. That payment was for close to $1.4 million.
One month later, he sent another payment for nearly that same amount to the new bank account.
In early September, MESSA notified GRPS that their last two monthly payments were never received. GRPS immediately stopped payment on the second wire.
In the meantime, Shefferly received another e-mail from his colleague, this one clearly fraudulent, and the investigation into the scam began.
Who owned the account the money was wired to?
The account the district's money was sent to belongs to a California couple identified as Mo and Kateryna Abourched.
The couple never responded to requests for an interview from the Detroit News, however, through their lawyer they denied any wrong doing, and said they are the real victims of the crime.
"The accusations against my clients are untrue," the couple's lawyer Kevin Gres wrote in an email to The Detroit News. "They were as much of a victim in this scheme as the others, and we look forward to clearing their names of any alleged wrongdoing."
The investigation has widened to include the US Secret Service
JP Morgan Chase bank officials began an investigation into the fraudulent wires, and now the Secret Service, Grand Rapids Police and Beverly Hills Police are involved.
Investigators say the couple transferred money out of the Chase account and went on a sending spree, including buying high end clothing and going on a trip to Cabo San Lucas.
Other businesses including a self-storage business in Florida, and a propane company may have also been scammed by the company.
Here Are The Pictures You Should Stop Posting Online