LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said on Friday that officials were scammed out of about $550,000, but the money was recovered roughly two weeks ago.

“I was very proud of the work of our accounts-payable department,” Parrish said.

Parrish said the county paid a contractor, which he did not name but described as a building construction company, for two invoices.  Then the company sent a notice about 30 days later saying if payment was not received then work for Lubbock County would stop.

The judge said that’s when the invoices were double checked. It turns out, the bank routing numbers were altered. The money went to a scammer instead of the construction company.

The accounts-payable department called the sheriff’s department, and a stop-payment order was issued.  But it was too late.  The money went to a bank in San Antonio, and the scam artist already drained the account.

The sheriff’s office asked federal officials to get involved.  In the meantime, Lubbock County filed an insurance claim and was able to pay the construction contractor.  

The bank in San Antonio was then able to recover the money and return it to Lubbock County.  The judge said he did not know the details of how that happened.  The county then paid back the insurance money.

“We continued with our construction plan,” Parrish said. “The insurance companies immediately paid.”

Parrish also said new procedures are in place to double verify any change to banking information with a contractor.

“This should have been in place in the first place,” Parrish said.

“We are still hunting for a suspect,” Sheriff Kelly Rowe said.  “More than likely, he/she will probably be international.”