Williamson County Government Lost Money to Fraud, Comptrollers Say

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Williamson County taxpayers recently lost money due to fraud, according to a report Tennessee Comptrollers filed last week.

The amount of money lost was small — only $2,000.

The matter, however, was serious enough that county officials filed a police report and reported the matter to state Comptrollers.

“On August 29, 2019, Williamson County received a phishing email requesting an employee to purchase gift cards in the amount of $2,000 and to send the corresponding card numbers to an individual acting as the county mayor. The employee utilized the purchasing card assigned to the county mayor to make the purchase, in violation of the purchasing card policy, which states ‘only the cardholder whose name is embossed on the card may use the purchasing card; no other person is authorized to use the card,’” according to the Comptroller’s report.

“Because the employee did not follow established internal controls for the use of county purchasing cards, which would have exposed this as a fictitious transaction, the gift cards were purchased, sent to the fictitious employee, and subsequently spent, resulting in a cash shortage of $2,000. After becoming aware of the fraud, county officials filed a police report and filed a fraud reporting form with the state Comptroller’s Office.”

Comptrollers said county management should follow established internal controls for the use of purchasing cards to ensure proper documentation is on file and proper approval is obtained before disbursements are made.

The report quoted the county’s director of accounts and budgets as saying the employee realized this was a scheme and self-reported it to the purchasing agent, who is the purchasing card program administrator.

“The store where the gift cards were purchased was contacted in an effort to cancel the cards, however, by this time the cards had been spent,” the report quoted the county official as saying.

“In addition to contacting the store, the bank through which the purchasing card program is administered was contacted in an effort to stop the purchase, however, this was not a transaction that could be canceled at that point. County officials then filed a police report and reported the fraud to the State Comptroller’s Office. Management reviewed the internal controls and purchasing card procedures with the employee.”

This is the second time in two years Comptrollers have called out Williamson County for irregularities.

As The Tennessee Star reported in 2018, the former assistant adult sports coordinator for the Williamson County Parks and Recreation allegedly stole more than $7,600 from that department, according to a Comptroller’s report that year.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

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