A woman has been accused of diverting more than US$770,000 into her personal account from the University of Connecticut (UConn) by posing as a representative of the computer manufacturer Dell.
Muthini Nzuki, 39, of Georgia faces charges of first-degree larceny and first-degree computer crimes for transferring $773,079.35 out of UConn’s accounts over a period of five weeks.
According to NBC Connecticut, she assumed the name of a genuine Dell Computers employee and used a free email service in Germany to open an account with Payment Works, to which she sent the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“This was an elaborate financial scheme between this defendant and perhaps other co-conspirators,” Tolland State’s Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky said during Nzuki’s hearing, as quoted by the Hartford Courant.
“Over a period of a month to six weeks this accused … hacked into [a] third party’s account and changed the routing numbers.”
The woman’s lawyer John O’Brien claimed that she was duped into the scheme by men from Kenya her said they needed her bank account in order to transfer a sum of $3 million in inheritance money from a Connecticut relative.
A woman from Georgia was tracked down and arrested for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a third-party payment system that is used by the University of Connecticut.
“I don’t believe she was monitoring her daily banking transactions she believed that the transactions were legitimate and that the transactions were from a legitimate source in Connecticut that they were not involved in stealing money the state of Connecticut,” O’Brien said, as quoted by Fox 61.
“She’s not a very sophisticated lady, but clearly she’s been caught up in something that was not her intention to steal nearly a million dollars from the state of Connecticut.”
Nzuki has been forced to surrender her passport and is being held on $500,000 bond.
UConn said in a statement that it was continuing to investigate how the incident occurred and was working “with our partners to resolve this incident in a manner that does not result in loss to UConn and that ensures similar incidents do not occur in the future.”
No student or employee data had been compromised, said the university.