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Florida man allegedly swindles nearly $2M from a Texas school district


Prosecutors believe he may have used some of the money to buy a new BMW and a couple of Rolex watches

Jack Taylor/Getty Images

A Florida man was arrested earlier this month for allegedly swindling nearly $2 million from a Texas school district.

Authorities in South Florida have charged Donald Conkright with wire fraud, KDFW-TV reported. The 61-year-old has been accused of an email scam that duped the Crowley Independent School District into sending large construction payments to his bank account.

Prosecutors believe Conkright may have used some of the money to purchase a new BMW and a pair of Rolex watches from a jewelry store in Florida.

What happened?

In October, the Crowley school district received an email from what appeared to be one its regular construction vendors, Steele & Freeman, according to the report.

The message allegedly asked that the district to update its banking information for wire transfers and it was signed by the name of an accountant who works for the firm.

Crowley ISD followed the instructions and updated the information for the vendor.

In November, the district paid two invoices it had received from Steele & Freeman to the bank account, which turned out to be fraudulent.

On Nov. 13, it paid an invoice for $520,000 and the second one paid Nov. 14 totaled $1.4 million.

The construction company reached later out to the district when it hadn't receive its money and that's when the scam was discovered.

Federal and local authorities were immediately contacted and an investigation led them to Conkright.

According to investigators, the Florida man withdrew about $1.9 million from the fraudulent account between Nov. 13-18,

What did the school district superintendent say?

Crowley ISD Superintendent Michael McFarland said school districts have become a target for email schemes.

"Unfortunately, business email compromise schemes like this have become common with other organizations and school districts targeted," McFarland told KDFW in a statement.

McFarland has also assured the community that the incident hasn't caused any financial woes for the district. He said officials are also working on ways to safeguard from future attempts to defraud the district.

"We want to thank the investigators who have worked diligently to track down the suspect behind this fraud. We will continue to work closely with authorities to bring the suspect to justice and recover the stolen funds," McFarland said.

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