“We sincerely apologize”: Local fire dept. loses hundreds of thousands of dollars in major scam

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The West Point Fire Department in Columbiana County reported a significant fraud incident involving their bank accounts on May 24. The department announced that hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen as part of a complex scam.

“The communities we serve have entrusted us with the funding to protect them,” the West Point Fire Department shared on their Facebook page. “In the desire to remain transparent, we must unfortunately report that we have had hundreds of thousands of dollars in that funding stolen from our organization and our community.”

The department, which serves Madison, Wayne and Elkrun Townships near Lisbon, OH is actively collaborating with local, state, and national law enforcement agencies to recover the stolen funds and uncover answers.

In response to the fraud, the West Point Fire Department is implementing enhanced security measures, revising policies and procedures, and altering operational aspects to safeguard the department’s future.

“We are taking measures to increase our security, improve our policies and procedures, as well as changing aspects of our operations to better protect the department going forward,” the statement read.

Despite the challenges, the department is committed to maintaining their service levels. They assured the community that staffing of EMTs and paramedics would continue as usual, from Sunday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additionally, efforts are being made to secure funding, cut costs, and create savings during the recovery process.

To aid in this transition, a temporary acting fire chief from a neighboring department will step in while the current chief takes a temporary leave of absence.

“During this investigation, we will be bringing in a temporary acting fire chief who is experienced in the role and serves at a neighboring department to assist in this process of rebuilding,” the department noted.

“We sincerely apologize for this unfortunate situation but will do everything within our ability to come out of this stronger, more efficient, and more secure for our community,” they concluded.

For emergencies, the community can contact West Point Fire/EMS at 330.424.5606 or 9-1-1. Non-emergency inquiries can be directed to their business line at 330.424.7853 or their website at www.WestPointFD.com.