County treasurer accused of funneling $1.2 million to Nigerian fraud scam

News by Frank Washkuch Jr.

A former Michigan county treasurer was arrested last week for allegedly embezzling more than $1.2 million in public funds to a Nigerian fraud scam.

A former Michigan county treasurer was arrested last week for allegedly embezzling more than $1.2 million in public funds to a Nigerian fraud scam.

Thomas Katona, 56, the former treasurer of Alcona County, was arraigned in a district court on Jan. 17 on eight counts of embezzlement by a public official and one count of forgery, according to a report in the Oscoda Press.

Held in lieu of $1 million bond, Katona faces a maximum of 14 years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 31.

The Nigerian fraud scam is a classic message-based fraud technique. Over the years it’s been perpetrated via letters and email.

An audit of county finances by the Michigan Treasury Department revealed a shortage of more than $1.2 million, state Attorney General Mike Cox told the Press.

County employees were notified last November by National City Bank that Katona had allegedly made unauthorized wire transfers of county funds, according to the press report.

Katona was first elected Alcona County treasurer in 1993. He was removed from the position two months ago by the Alcona County Board of Commissioners.

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