(WSVN) - A South Florida business has become the victim of a highly sophisticated scam. Kevin Ozebek exposes the scheme in tonight’s 7 Investigates.

Jake Luther’s company supplies items big and small to a host of clients.

Jake Luther: “Anything from toilet paper at your local museum or sandblasting a trailer for the military.”

So Jake was ecstatic when he got an email from a man saying he was Rodney Cartwright, the senior procurement executive at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Jake Luther: “It was from a dot-gov email address. From there it says, ‘We’d like you to bid on the opportunity to supply us with laptops for a new office expansion.’ We looked him up, we looked up the address, we looked up the National Gallery of Art. Everything lined up.”

Since the museum houses one of the most prestigious art collections in the country, Jake jumped at the chance.

He replied with a bid to send 63 laptops for $97,900.

A few days later, he got an email saying the bid was approved.

Jake Luther: “I was planning for my wedding, so we had a bunch of expenses coming up, so to me, being a Christian guy, this is a blessing from God.”

From his Cutler Bay office, Jake ordered the computers and sent them to a warehouse in Nashua, New Hampshire.

He was told it was the gallery’s distribution center.

Jake Luther: “During this time, he came back to me, and he was like, ‘You know, there’s a chance that we’re doing another expansion. It’s our final one. We need to order like another 60 more units.'”

So Jake sent 60 more laptops for $116,000 to Nashua.

He then focused on his upcoming wedding.

Jake Luther: “When I got back from my honeymoon, we’re about the 30-day mark where this contract should be paid out through wire transfer, which is relatively typical for these type of deals.”

But the money never came, and Jake stopped getting responses from the man he thought was Rodney Cartwright.

Jake Luther: “It’s one of my lowest emotional moments. It was like I could feel my head pounding, I could hear ringing in my ears. I immediately got on my knees and didn’t know what to do.”

Jake then tracked down the real Rodney Cartwright at the museum and learned someone has been impersonating him.

A spokesperson for the National Gallery of Art tells us they are “very concerned about the fraudulent use of our name. We have no way of knowing the number of businesses targeted, but victims have notified us of incidents over the past several months. We have been in contact with the U.S. Department of Justice about the matters.”

Leeor Geva, IMG Solutions: “This is very sophisticated.”

Computer security expert Leeor Geva says Jake is a victim of “spoofing.”

That dot-gov email address that had Jake thinking he was dealing with a federal employee was a fake, and it’s nearly impossible to spot spoofing unless you’re professionally trained.

Kevin Ozebek: “So you think we should be suspicious of every email we get?

Leeor Geva: “Every single email.”

As for the computers, they were picked up at the warehouse by a man named Kelvin, who claimed he was with an Ohio based logistics company.

We called that company and learned there’s no Kelvin on the payroll.

Federal investigators won’t confirm they’re working this case, but Jake says an agent has reached out to him.

Kevin Ozebek, 7News.

CONTACT 7 INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
7Investigates@wsvn.com

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