$843K-plus payment from West Allis-West Milwaukee School District 'intercepted by criminals'

WEST ALLIS -- Officials with the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District filed a police report with the West Allis Police Department and FBI regarding an online payment in the amount of $843,254.94 made to CG Schmidt initiated on Oct. 25, 2019 that was not received by the company.

"We began an investigation, and early on in our investigation, we wrote a number of subpoenas and search warrants in an effort to follow the money," said Chris Botsch with the West Allis Police Department. "The results of those subpoenas and search warrants led us to various accounts throughout the country, and we believe the money was ultimately transferred overseas."

This transfer was one of the scheduled amounts due to CG Schmidt in its capacity as the general contractor for the new West Allis-West Milwaukee School District Recreation and Community Services Center that is being constructed at 2450 S. 68th Street.

According to investigators, their initial investigation revealed the district's payment had been intercepted by criminal actors and subsequently transferred to various other accounts throughout the U.S. before finally being moved overseas. Due to the jurisdictional issues and the complexity of the case, the incident was turned over to the FBI's Milwaukee Office by West Allis police.

When making a payment online, many people assume it's as simple as just writing a check, and then handing it over, however, it's seldomly that simple, or even that safe.

"I advise clients all the time, it's not a matter of if it's going to happen to you," said Nathan DeLadurantey, attorney. "It's a matter of when. At that moment of handoff where it's about to leave my hand and about to enter yours, each one of those is a window, again, for a third party to gain access."

Director of Finance and Operations, Caitlin Windler issued the following statement in a news release:

"We do not expect this to impact the construction of our new Recreation and Community Services Center. We’ve also implemented procedural changes to address our online banking process and will provide user education and training for email fraud and phishing attacks."