Credit: Darrow Montgomery

A check fraud scheme netted about $23,000 from a Ward 3 advisory neighborhood commission last year, according to the commission’s chairperson Nancy MacWood.

Over Memorial Day weekend 2018, ANC 3C’s treasurer noticed the depleted funds and froze the account. MacWood says the bank reimbursed $3,800 almost immediately. She says the ANC closed the hacked account with Bank of America and deposited the money in a different bank.

A local subscription-based blog, Street Justice, first reported the stolen funds.

MacWood has been in contact with a Metropolitan Police Department detective and a lawyer in the D.C. Attorney General’s Office. After speaking with a lawyer in the AG’s office, MacWood is not optimistic about recovering the rest of the money.

She says the police believe the culprits were part of an international scam that hacked into the ANC’s account as well as the accounts of individuals in other states. The hackers then wrote fake checks from the ANC’s account, deposited them in other people’s hacked accounts, and then withdrew the money. 

“It’s just the worst thing ever,” she says. “It’s really devastating to have something like this happen because they’re public funds. It’s obnoxious and infuriating.”

MacWood does not suspect any commissioners are somehow responsible.

“The impression the police are giving me is that they know what happened,” she says. “They haven’t pinpointed exactly who, but the scam apparently is representative of scams that they’ve seen before.”

ANCs receive quarterly allotments from the D.C. government to pay for administrative costs and issue grants. In the past ANC 3C has given grants to John Eaton Elementary School to help pay for a theatrical play and to Wilson High School for club sports teams.