A Nigerian man accused of scamming the Boulder Valley School District out of almost $1 million has been arrested more than three years after the theft was reported.
Sherifdeen Mogaji, 39, was booked into custody at the Boulder County Jail on Friday on suspicion of theft between $100,000 and $1 million, computer crime and forgery.
Details on how Mogaji was located were not immediately available. Investigators in 2017 believed he had fled to Nigeria. Officials with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office said Mogaji was detained by police in Fort Worth, Texas.
Mogaji is being held at the Boulder County Jail on $100,000 bond as he awaits a formal filing of charges. He will have to surrender his passport if he does make bond, according to the original arrest affidavit, which was signed in October 2016.
According to the affidavit, Mogaji is accused of stealing about $850,000 in bond construction money that was supposed to go to contractor Adolfson and Peterson Construction.
Investigators said someone with the school district in August 2016 was contacted by a man claiming to be with Adolfson and Peterson who asked to change the way the company was paid.
The district instructed the person to fill out a form, which was returned with what was later determined to be a forged signature of the company’s chief financial officer. The form specified a bank account in New Jersey for the district to send payments as direct deposits.
Adolfson and Peterson contacted the school district about a month later because it had failed to receive payments, and at that time told the school district nobody from the company had requested a change in how payments were made.
During that time, four payments were made to the new account totaling $852,733.83. The bank was able to reverse three of the payments and froze about $300,000 still left in the account, in total recovering $480,800.51.
A bank investigator was able to track the account to Mogaji, who used a New York driver’s license to open the account. According to the affidavit, Mogaji wired some of the money to himself in Nigeria, wrote checks to cash, paid off student loan payments and made online purchases.
The alleged theft resulted in the Boulder Valley School District enacting several changes, including moving away from direct deposits to pay for bond work and other short-term vendors, instead using paper checks.
Mogaji had no known connection with Boulder Valley, but school district officials said in 2017 all of the district’s contracts are public, while financial information also is published online. Prior to 2017, the district also was required to publicly post its check registers.