Big Story 10

Scoular hit with $17.2 million fraud: newspaper

(Reuters) - Scoular Co, a U.S. grain trading and handling firm, was swindled out of more than $17 million through an international email scheme, a company official confirmed on Wednesday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the fraud, which took place in June, a company spokesperson said in a telephone interview.

The Omaha World-Herald newspaper reported the fraud on Wednesday. According to the paper, Scoular sent a total of $17.2 million through three wire transfers in June to a bank in China, acting on emails sent to a Scoular executive.

The emails appeared to be from Scoular Chief Executive Officer Chuck Elsea and the Omaha, Nebraska-based company’s auditing firm.

Court documents said the emails were generated by impostors using email addresses set up in Germany, France and Israel and computer servers in Moscow, according to the newspaper.

The Scoular spokesperson, who did not want to be identified by name, said it was possible the company might recover some of the money.

But even without any recovery, the employee-owned company, which has about $6 billion in annual revenues, has been able to absorb the loss, the spokesperson said.

Scoular has tightened internal systems and controls, the spokesperson said.

(This version of the story corrects the amount of revenue to $6 billion from $6 million in paragraph seven.)

Reporting By Carey Gillam; Editing by Jonathan Oatis