BAY SPRINGS, MS (WDAM) - Approximately $300,000 was stolen from the City of Bay Springs after a city clerk got caught up in an international lottery scheme, according to State Auditor Shad White.
White announced Wednesday his office has issued a demand for $325,561 from former city clerk Randy James for suspected embezzlement.
According to White, this ranks as the ninth largest demand for embezzlement in the past decade in Mississippi.
“My office will work to hold fraudsters like Randy James, who knowingly steal your money, accountable with zero tolerance for this kind of theft,” said White in a news release.
White said James stole about 10 percent of the city’s annual budget from August 2017 to April 2018 after being duped by scammers into sending money overseas in hopes of winning money in a lottery scheme.
The state auditor’s office alleges James created and paid fraudulent invoices from fake business to siphon money from the city into a secret bank account.
White said James, under instruction from the scammers, would transfer city money into that secret account in increments of $1,950 to $50,000. James would then wire the money overseas, White said.
“This loss is massive for a town the size of Bay Springs,” said White. “Our small towns cannot afford to lose a single penny right now.”
White said the alleged embezzlement was brought to the attention of the city after local bank officials became suspicious of James’ transactions.
In addition to his demand letter, White said James could face criminal prosecution.
White added that James was covered by a $50,000 surety bond while he was employed with the City of Bay Springs.