FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is investigating a financial fraud incident involving the City of Fort Lauderdale and more than $1 million.

Authorities revealed on Thursday that the city mistakenly paid $1.2 million, believing it was a legitimate invoice from Moss Construction, the construction company hired to build a new police department.

“It wasn’t just an email, like you know, ‘Hey, this is Moss Construction. Send me $1.2 million.’ It was followed up with full documentation, multiple paperwork,” said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

The incident occurred last week when the city authorized the payment, thinking it was a genuine bill from Moss Construction.

“They’re building a police station. It’s $144 million, so they’re in full construction mode, so it would’ve been consistent with the practice that we’ve been following,” said Trantalis.

Reginald Andre, the owner of Ark Solvers Cyber Security, told 7News on Thursday that these types of phishing scams are on the rise. He said the easiest way to protect yourself is to follow up with a phone call, especially if it involves large payments.

“Just pick up the phone and just say, ‘Hey, Sam, I just want to be sure that this new payment is you,'” he said.

The discovery of the fraud emerged after the payment had been processed and the city is working to retrieve the money.

However, Andre said, it may be tough if it turns out that the transfer was made internationally.

“But if it’s domestic and it happened within the United States, the chances are they’re going to be able to work with the FBI and be able to get their money back,” said Andre.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department, in collaboration with other relevant authorities, is investigating.

In response to the incident, city officials have issued a community reminder urging individuals and organizations to exercise extreme caution when fulfilling payment requests.

Moss Construction released the following statement:

“Malicious actors took advantage of our good name and publicly available information to attempt a scam. This is a fraud case that is being actively investigated by the City of Fort Lauderdale officials and police. We refer all calls to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.”

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