Texas District Bilked for $2 Million in Email Scheme, Feds Say

Contributing Writer

A Georgia man posed as a bank employee in emails and duped a Texas school district into wiring him more than $2 million that was supposed to be used to pay down the district’s debt service, federal prosecutors say

Donald Lockard, 66, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud, according to court records. 

In an indictment, federal prosecutors say Lockard emailed the comptroller of the 10,500-student San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District, located along the Texas-Mexico border, claiming to be a representative for the bank the district uses to make bond payments.

In those emails, Lockard allegedly instructed the district to send the money to several accounts that he controlled.

A total of three payments worth more than $2 million were made to the accounts on Feb. 12, the indictment says. Portions of that money were withdrawn in cash, but federal prosecutors say they are seeking forfeiture of $1.5 million from Lockard’s accounts believed to belong to the district. The district has filed claims with federal law enforcement to get the money back. 

Lockard was indicted in July. But federal prosecutors informed the school district last week of the indictment as Lockard appeared in court for the first time.

He remains free on a $50,000 bond, according to court records. Lockard’s court-appointed attorneys did not return a request for comment.

The school district acknowledged in a February statement that it had been scammed via email, saying “payments to a bank for the district’s debt service, were electronically transferred … to  a fraudulent account instead of the proper account.”

Along with contacting law enforcement, the district at the time said it planned to do an internal review and put new safeguards in place.

In a statement last week, the district said it was hacked. It was after the district’s “technology network system was attacked by malware, the district learned that funds intended as payments to a bank for the district’s debt service were electronically transferred … to a fraudulent account.” The federal indictment did not mention hacking. 

“Unfortunately, fraudulent schemes like this have become common with other organizations and school districts targeted across the state and nation,” Superintendent Carlos Rios said in a statement.

“We are extremely grateful for the prompt action taken by FBI investigators, and law enforcement agencies that collaborated with the FBI.”

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