Metro & Crime

I warned authorities before Nigerian stole $700,000 -U.S. IT expert

An Information Technology manager in the United States, William Birchett, has claimed that he warned the City of Fort Worth authorities about a $700,000 phishing email scam by a Nigerian, Gbenga Fadipe. Fadipe was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison over the fraud. Judge Scott Wisch sentenced Fadipe, who had pleaded guilty to the offence, which involved $693,625.77 in funds stolen from the City of Fort Worth. But Birchett alleged in a lawsuit that the city mishandled the Fadipe theft and other security breaches.

Birchett claimed that he was forced out of his job in retaliation for reporting the technology troubles he discovered, including that the city had lied about its compliance with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime database regulations and had left the city employees’ medical and personal information accessible to anyone with internet access. Beyond the financial loss, city employees with criminal convictions were allowed access to a confidential FBI criminal database, according to the lawsuit Birchett filed in May 2019.

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County District Court, describes Birchett reporting his findings and a proposal to fix the problems to Kevin Gunn, the city’s acting chief financial officer, and Roger Wright, its acting chief technology officer.

“Gunn and Wright rejected Birchett’s remediation proposal in part because the expense would have required approval from the City Council and would entail public disclosure of the deficiencies, bad public relations, and accountability questions as to how and why the city’s cybersecurity was 90 per cent non-compliant,” the lawsuit alleges. In October 2017, a change of account request was submitted to the City of Fort Worth that appeared to be from Imperial Construction, which was doing business with the city. The fraudulent request, which was granted, was to update Imperial’s wiring instructions so that Fort Worth’s invoice payments due to Imperial would be directed to a new account at Chase Bank. Fadipe was the sole authorised user of the new Chase account. Once the money was transferred by the city into that account, Fadipe immediately moved those stolen funds into four other accounts he controlled at Prosperity Bank and Capital One Bank between November 2017 and early 2018.


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