We do it here every day.

Verifying letters to the editor is an important part of someone’s job at this newspaper. Why? Because we can’t trust that the person who wrote the letter is who he or she claims to be until we go through the verification process.

Glen Gainer’s office could take a lesson from that policy.

West Virginia got scammed. Our state deposited $2 million of taxpayer money into two bogus accounts simply because someone was clever enough to dupe the auditor’s office with authentic-looking letters. The letters claimed the firms had switched banks. It sounds like something that should have been verified; instead, the letters went unquestioned, the funds were routed to fake accounts, and the money disappeared.

Yet our state followed standard procedure — national standards, even.

It is time to change that procedure.

It’s easy for us to criticize the auditor’s office about this, in hindsight. Really, it’s likely the state had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. The money is gone now, but we hope our government has learned a valuable lesson: Unfortunately we are living in a time in which no one doing business by mail, phone, e-mail or fax can be trusted. Any transaction involving a new bank account needs to be checked.

All someone needs to do is pick up a telephone and check with a company executive to verify the change of account. This should be the standard policy for governments on any level, corporations and everyday people. On an individual level, if your bank were to suddenly ask you to start sending your car payment to a different address, it would be a good idea to call the bank and double-check, for example.

It’s time for all of us to be vigilant.

As for Gainer’s claim that the companies be responsible for the lost money? That’s a statement also worthy of double-checking, and Gainer should. We dare say that had one’s state income tax payment found its way into the wrong hands, the state would still hold that resident accountable.

React to this story:


Trending Video