Monday, November 23, 2020

Philabundance CEO Scammed Out Of $923,553

By Ralph Cipriano

On July 30th, Loree Jones, the newly-appointed CEO of Philabundance, came into the 1st Police District, and according to the cops, she was "visibly upset." For a good reason.

Jones told the cops "her email was hacked," and that somehow, she had been convinced to wire $923,553 from Philabundance's Citizens Bank account to a JPMorgan account that she subsequently learned was bogus.

Jones, according to the cops, was "very upset, agitated and rude. Clearly she knew she messed up big time." The case was subsequently transferred to the fraud division of the Major Crimes Unit. And as of last Friday, "We have no updated/further information at this time," said Police Officer Eric McLaurin of the Police Department's Office of Media Relations/Public Affairs."

A spokesperson for Philabundance took issue with the police report, saying that Jones's email "was not hacked," she "did not wire the money" and she was not "visibly upset" when she showed up at the 1st Police District. The spokesperson then released this statement:

"This past summer, Philabundnance was the victim of cyber theft. We have conducted an internal investigation and are collaborating with the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department in an attempt to identify the perpetrator(s) of this crime."

"The wire fraud was a one-time event and involved a loss of $923,553. While this is a considerable sum of money, we have appropriate insurance coverage and sufficient cash reserves to ensure that there is no disruption of our day-to-day activities due to this crime."

For 35 years, Philadabundance "has focused on providing emergency food in order to relieve hunger in
the Delaware Valley each day," the nonprofit's website states. The stated goal of the charity: "Ending hunger. For Good."

Last year, according to the nonprofit's annual report, Philabundance and its member agencies distributed 26 million pounds of food, including 1.7 million pounds to seniors' programs, and 324,000 pounds to children's programs. 

According to its annual report, the nonprofit has more than 40,000 individual donors that helped feed 90,000 neighbors a week, through the work of 15,000 volunteers. 

Donors to Philabundance include: the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Shop Rite, Starbucks, Suburu, United Way, Vanguard, Wawa, Walmart, Acme Markets, the Bank of America, Giant Food Stores, the Hearst Foundation, Morgan Stanley and the Philadelphia Phillies 

CEO Loree Jones joined Philabudnace in June of 2020, a month before the cybercrime. She had formerly served as chief of staff at Rutgers University-Camden, and was chief of external affairs for the Philadelphia School District.

With the city of Philadelphia, Jones served as deputy managing director for health and human services, before being appointed managing director by Mayor John Street.  

The statement from Philabundance had this to say about the cybercrime, and the loss of $923,553:

"Importantly, our online donation system and our donor database were not compromised, accessed or affected. Our donors can trust that their donations have reached and will continue to reach us and will be used to feed the hundreds of thousands of people in our are who do not get enough to eat on a daily basis." 

"It is increasingly difficult for any operation -- nonprofit or for-profit -- to protect itself from cybercrime. Cybercime has grown in intensity and frequency this year and many of these cyber-crime criminals have been targeting nonprofit orogranisations. It is unfortunate that we have been preyed upon as a social philanthropic organization, but we must increase our security efforts."

"We have enhanced our IT security systems and financial controls to provide added protection for every single dollar we raise. We are being both thoughtful and aggressive in putting these safeguards in place to make sure this never happens again."

"Despite this incident, Philabundance continues to fight hunger in the middle of a pandemic that is killing hundreds in this area and disrupting the emergency food supply upon which more and more residents rely."

Cops I talked to took issue with Philabundance's version of events, insisting, "She was angry and frantic, not to mention very condescending." About the wire transfer of $923,553, a cop said, "It was wired by her or by someone on her staff at her direction. What's the difference?"

"She told numerous people that her "email was hacked," the cop said. "She told her assigned investigator at major crimes that her email was hacked."

A police report backs that up. The report says: "The complainant states that a wire transfer of $923,533 USC [U.S. currency] was made by the complainant from their Citizens Bank account to a JPMorgan Chase Bank account for construction. The complainant later realized that her email was hacked and the JPMorgan bank account was fraudulent. Citizens is aware of the situation and are currently investigating the incident."

To continue the back and forth, a spokesperson for Philabundance, took issue once more with the cops:

"A CEO does not do wire transfers," the spokesperson said. "The job at Philabundance lies with the finance department, as is the case with large for-profit companies and non-profit organizations. And despite what the police report said, it turns out that Loree’s emails were not hacked. Philabundance, which has served over 300,000 families this year in the middle of COVID, was the victim of a crime." 

"While the Philadelphia Police Department and the FBI search for the criminals, Philabundance is doing everything it can to make sure this never happens again," the spokesperson said. "This theft was upsetting to say the least. However, upsetting as it is, it is not going to stop Philabundance from doing the important work they do. The work is too important and the need too great for them to stop."


  1. It's Amazing that the FBI commits the resources to investigate and indict Louie Meatballs, Tony Macaroni, Handsome Steve, Baby Dom et al but cases of Corruption and Evidence provided involving the Biden Crime Family and obvious racketeering in the theft at Philabundance come up EMPTY.

    Sleepy Joe the Mob Boss will straighten it all out, J can't wait.

    Neither can Anastasia, he has enough material for another Novel.

  2. Great reporting Ralph

  3. What's Your Take on US Attorney McSwain ordering "Mister Electric, Joey Meatballs and Tony Macaroni" from the FBI Menu while sitting on the Conclusive Evidence of Criminal Racketeering and Conspiracy in their possession for over a Year, from Hunter Biden's Laptop

  4. I no longer give to Philabundance (PB) because of this incident. Mrs. Jones was at least derelict in her actions, if not criminally involved. Construction invoices are usually tied to progress reports on the construction. Issues: 1. An invoice of that amount would have merited much scrutiny. 2. Perhaps the contractor had an arrangement to make a wire payment, but if so, that would have been in the contract. PB would have already had the bank information set up. Could not have wired to a fraudulent account if that were so. 3. PB should have had a construction liaison person who would review such invoices before sending them on to the next level. Was such a person in place and did that person review the invoice? 4. As to accountability, Mrs. Jones being the CEO cannot escape responsibility. An invoice that large should have been approved for payment by her. 5. Even on a $12 million project an invoice of nearly 1/12 of the total would not be expected. Possible, but unless it was the closing payment - the contractor's profit, say - usually smaller amounts are invoiced reflecting sub-contractor's completion of work. It would be interesting to know if the $923,533 is the exact amount that the contractor called about when he was missing a payment. If the sought amount was less, then it is very much suspicious and unlikely to be a cyber-crime. 6. I don't know how the hacking of Mrs. Jones' email would obtain the invoice. The CEO wouldn't normally get these directly. I would want to know more about the mechanics of how a cyber-crime allegedly occurred here. 7. It appears the Board is content to sweep the loss of $923,533 under the rug. There should be a report to the public explaining much of what I laid out here. Other: Other: 8. A wire transfer is typically a big deal to some extent. So, a contractor requesting payment by wire, if it wasn't contractually required, would probably generate some push-back from PB. Apparently there was none. A written check for an organization that large and an amount that large should have required 2 signatures of some seniority, and likely would not have cleared as quickly and of course, would have required a mailing address.
    I do not give to Philabundance any more and won't until the Board does its duty and provides a full report of what happened, step by step. Also, what policies in detail they have to prevent such from reoccurring.


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