2020 | Schools

Montgomery College lost $2.8 million in ‘fraud scheme’ last year

About 39% of money recovered, college says; criminal diverted payments to 'fraudulent bank account'

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Montgomery College

This story was updated on Oct. 1, 2020, to correct a reference to the amount of money that was recovered.

Montgomery College lost $2.8 million in a fraud scheme last year, according to a financial audit released Thursday afternoon.

In September 2019, the college announced it had fallen victim to and lost money in a fraud scheme, but released few other details, citing an ongoing federal investigation.

An annual financial audit — completed by the Arlington, Va., accounting firm Clifton Larson Allen and released Thursday — shows that the school lost $2.8 million, or about 1% of its annual budget, in the scheme.

However, through the criminal investigation, which is not yet complete, the college has recovered $1.1 million, or about 39% of what was lost.

In a news release, Montgomery College wrote that the money was “invoiced by a legitimate vendor” and “appropriate controls were adhered to by MC’s staff in multiple departments to verify the legitimacy of the invoicing.”

“However,” the college wrote, “criminals manipulated a process that allowed the diversion of payments to a fraudulent bank account.”

The release did not disclose who or in what department the fraud originated, and spokesman Marcus Rosano declined to elaborate.

The news release said Montgomery College has no new information about the criminal investigation, and the investigation could take “several years.”

Rosano said in an interview that the investigation has shown that no employees were involved in orchestrating and executing the crime.

Montgomery College’s news release said it hopes to recover more of the lost funds, but it “will not ask the county or state to make up for the lost funds” in future budgets.

“This is a crime that happened, and it hurts. We understand that,” Rosano said. “But, moving forward, just to learn how it happened, why it happened and what we’re doing, that’s the most important part. We hope the community understands how seriously we take financial stewardship and how important it us to have that public trust.”

More than 2,000 employees have taken cybersecurity training the past 13 months, according to the college.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com