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Only a third recovered after SOU email scam

Whatever became of the investigation of the million-plus dollars that Southern Oregon University was swindled out of?

— RP, Talent

Southern Oregon University recovered nearly a third of the $1.9 million payment that the university inadvertently wired to fraudsters three years ago, Mail Tribune archives show.

In April 2017, the university wired $1.9 million to someone who posed as Andersen Construction Co., the firm that was building the McNeal Pavilion complex.

Of that amount, the university recovered about $609,000, which was the amount still left in the account by the time the university discovered it had been defrauded three days after wiring the payment and contacting the FBI.

We checked with FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele out of the Portland office to see if there are any new leads in the case, but Steele said Wednesday that she doesn’t “have any new information to share” about the investigation.

Business email compromise scams typically involve fraudsters using spoofed emails that at first glance look like they came from a legitimate company, but which have the accounts payable department route payment to a new bank account.

News reports from the time show the university was not the first victim.

In 2016, Appalachian State University in North Carolina lost $1.95 million in 2016, but recovered more than 80 percent of its losses, while the city of El Paso, Texas, switched to paper checks following a November 2016 scam that cost the city nearly $1.9 million.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.