MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami Beach City officials cut the ribbon on a new trolley route, Thursday, but they spent much of the ceremony talking about $3.6 million that is missing from a city bank account.
The city is working with the US and State Attorney’s offices, as well as the FBI, to investigate fraudulent money transfers that began during the summer, according to city officials.
“For $3.6 million, you could buy a lot of trolleys,” Commissioner Michael Grieco said.
City Manager Jimmy Morales said that despite two employees resigning from the city’s finance department, there have been no allegations of criminal wrongdoing within the city’s ranks.
“It’s a case of cyber fraud. We’re a victim of crime,” Morales said. “Right now, we have no evidence to indicate that it’s an inside job at the city in terms of anybody doing anything illegal. But I’m not going to say more than that, because the investigation is just getting underway.”
Morales said the employees did “the honorable thing” by resigning.
City Commissioners John Elizabeth Aleman and Joy Malakoff said the city should’ve known earlier that they were being defrauded.
“This is something we should have known was happening,” Aleman said.
“It’s a shame it wasn’t caught sooner but that’s all,” Malakoff said.
Grieco said the city needs to investigate how the city could allow this to happen.
“If this is simply a product of neglect,” he said, “I think we need to dig deeper and see how far that neglect goes.”
The digging has already started, according to Mayor Philip Levine.
“I know that the city manager is taking all of the necessary steps,” Levine said. “He’s launching a full investigation and I have all the faith and confidence in our city manager.”
City officials told 7News they have already taken steps to prevent this sort of fraud from happening again, and to ensure every dollar is returned to the city.
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