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Woman accused of diverting over $770K from UConn to her personal account

STORRS — UConn Police said a woman has been arrested after more than $770,000 was taken from the University of Connecticut and siphoned into a personal bank account.

On June 21, UConn police got a complaint of a larceny of $773,079.35 from the university.

Police said between April and May of 2017 the routing number for a third party payment center UConn used to pay the computer company DELL was changed, causing the payments from the University to go into the personal bank account Muthini Nzuki, 39, of Georgia.

Police prepared an arrest warrant for Nzuki, and then asked for assistance from the Cobb County Sheriff’s Officer Fugitive Task Force to assist in the apprehension of Nzuki.

According to the arrest warrant, between April 1, 2017 and May 31, 2017, 32 different deposits from UConn went into Nzuki’s bank account ranging from more than $200 to $100,000.  In the same time period, police said there were 24 checks written, taking $694,850 out of her account.

On August 24, Nzuki was taken into custody.  Nzuki was then extradited Thursday from Georgia to UConn Police Headquarters for processing.

Nzuki was charged with computer crimes and larceny in the first degree.  She faced a judge in Rockville Superior Court Friday.  She’s being held on $500,000 bond and must surrender her passport.

Nzuki’s lawyer argued Friday she was duped into the scheme by men from Kenya who told her they needed her bank account to transfer $3 million in inheritance money from a Connecticut relative.

“I don’t believe she was monitoring her daily banking transactions she believed that the transactions were legitimate and that the transactions were from a legitimate source in Connecticut that they were not involved in stealing money the state of Connecticut,” Attorney John O’Brien said.

He went on to say, “She’s not a very sophisticated lady, but clearly she’s been caught up in something that was not her intention to steal nearly a million dollars from the state of Connecticut.”

A spokesperson from UConn sent FOX61 the following statement:

“UConn became aware of a security incident in May 2017 that affected payments made by the university to one of its vendors.  Unauthorized changes were made to the vendor’s account information in a payment system used by UConn.  These changes resulted in payments intended for that vendor to be diverted to a bank account that was not affiliated with that vendor.  These unauthorized payments were made over a five-week period and totaled approximately $773,000.  

No student or employee data was accessed or compromised as a result of this incident.

UConn immediately notified the vendor, its payment system vendor, the state auditors and relevant law enforcement authorities upon becoming aware of this incident.  One individual has been arrested for her involvement in this incident to date.  

We are continuing to investigate this incident and to work with our partners to resolve this incident in a manner that does not result in loss to UConn and that ensures similar incidents do not occur in the future.”