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Christian Foundation’s Email Used in Alleged Wire Fraud Case

Federal authorities are seeking the forfeiture of more than $60,000 they believe is part of $250,000 stolen from a Tennessee woman via bogus emails made to look like they came from a Christian foundation. 

The Maclellan Foundation discovered in October of 2021 that the email account of its chief investment officer, Tom Lowe, had been compromised, allowing unidentified suspects to read his emails and identify potential victims, the Chattanoogan reported.

The perpetrators used their access to Lowe’s Maclellan Foundation email address to target Margaret May, a resident of Chattanooga and friend of Lowe’s to whom he had provided investment advice in the past.

They sent May an email that appeared to be from Lowe giving her instructions to wire $250,000 to the Truist bank account of Randall Auto of Bradenton, Florida. They were able to keep the sent email hidden from Lowe in an email sub-file.  

IT specialists brought in by the Foundation after the money transfer was brought to its attention discovered the email account compromise and reported it to federal authorities as a potential wire fraud and money laundering case. 

Federal agents said most of the $250,000 was dispersed via two cashier’s checks for $197,000 and $30,900 respectively, made payable to Phillip Lucas and deposited to the JP Morgan Chase Bank account of Philip Lucas DBA Lucas Auto Sales DBA Phileas Ltd.

The remaining money in the two accounts—$997.31 in the Randall Auto account and $59,982.33 in the Lucas Auto account—is being held through by the U.S. Marshal’s Office.  

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Anne Stych

Freelance writer, copy editor, proofreader and content manager. Science, technology, retail, etc. writer, ACBJ BizWomen.

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