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Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark addresses the media at the Legislative Building in Regina in April, 2018. The city says it has lost $1-million after it was targeted in an online scam.Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press

The City of Saskatoon may be getting back most of the $1-million it mistakenly sent an online fraudster.

City manager Jeff Jorgenson told a news conference Monday that nearly all the money has been traced to between 10 and 15 bank accounts, which have been frozen by court order.

The city revealed last week that someone had electronically impersonated the chief financial officer of Allan Construction, which has a contract with the city.

The culprit asked to have a payment sent to a new bank account and the city complied before realizing it was a scam.

“Although we are still in the early days, and the money has not yet been returned to the city, we will continue to work with the banks and with the Saskatoon Police Service in order to get as much of the money returned to the city as possible,” Jorgenson said.

“This is very encouraging news.”

Jorgenson didn’t provide a number of exactly how much money has been locked down, as he said the number has been changing as Canada’s banks continue to trace the funds.

So far, the city has received $40,000, which Jorgenson called a first step.

“What I expect will happen is that that’s the first account. So that one is settled. And then the next account might be for more, and then the next one for less, and you methodically roll through each of these account holders,” he explained.

Jorgenson also told reporters that most of the accounts are Canadian, although he can’t confirm if there were any international accounts involved.

Since the majority of the banks involved have their headquarters in Toronto, he said lawyers in Ontario have been hired.

He admitted some of the $1-million could already have been spent.

“There will be, I think, there could be some. Because not all of the money has been frozen, right? Some of it is not in those accounts any longer. But like I said, the vast majority is still in bank accounts. So each account is going to be different.”

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