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419 Scams Lure In Government Worker

The treasurer for Altona County in Michigan has been arrested for siphoning over a quarter of the county’s budget to send to Nigerian scammers.

419 Scams Lure In Government Worker
419 Scams Lure In Government Worker

During the time I’ve been writing about security issues in the wonderful world of technology, it’s become more and more apparent that there are instances when people live out the old Pogo aphorism, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Thomas Katona proved to be that enemy. Along with pulling $1.236 million out of the County’s budget to deliver to Nigerian scamsters, he also sent them money from his personal accounts. A report on the Sophos security software website described why Katona was his own worst enemy:

County treasury employees became suspicious of Katona’s dealings after local bank officials informed them that he had directed several unauthorised transfers to overseas accounts during late 2006, including to beneficiaries linked with Nigerian 419 scams.

It was then uncovered that he had made further payments using his personal savings, and had previously been advised by bank officials that he was investing money in fraudulent schemes.


Instead of a windfall of money from scammers, Katona faces lengthy jail terms for inflicting a financial shortfall on the county. The report noted he has been charged with forgery and multiple counts of embezzlement.

To quote Robert Heinlein, TANSTAAFL, or “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.” It’s a concept that a lot of people, for a variety of reasons, just don’t seem to get. If they did, 419 scams would be a footnote in Internet history.


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David Utter
About David Utter
David Utter is a business and technology writer for SecurityProNews and WebProNews.

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