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Public utility in the Thumb falls victim to phishing scam


A public utility in the Thumb recently announced it fell victim to a phishing scam, but did not reveal how much money had been stolen.

Exactly $189,483.92 was reported missing by the Sebewaing Light and Water Department on Jan. 23, according to the Michigan State Police.

In a recent release, the Sebewaing Light and Water Department said a likely foreign, third-party posed as a legitimate vendor and received funds fraudulently.

"The Michigan State police is actively investigating this complaint, alongside partner agencies to ensure this crime is investigated fully," Lt. Kim Vetter told WCMU.

The village's announcement was in direct response to a local media outlet that claimed funds had been "siphoned off." The release said that report "mischaracterized" the situation, and no employees acted unlawfully.

The department's superintendent told WCMU the investigation is still ongoing and declined to go on the record, saying more information will be released at a later date.

The village attorney could not be reached for comment.

This is not the first time funds have gone missing from the Sebewaing Light and Water Department. In 2012, a former employee was convicted of embezzeling and reportedly took up to $42,000.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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