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Florida manager resigns after writing check to Elon Musk impostor


For months, a Florida executive believed she was exchanging online messages with Elon Musk, she told a board meeting this week. Janet McGee trusted her friend online, so she wrote them a check for $100,000 from school funds in hopes of receiving future donations, according to conversations at the board meeting.

However, McGee said she soon learned she was being cheated on by someone posing as Musk, one of the world’s richest business executives. She publicly apologized on Tuesday, saying she made a mistake. But after backlash from parents and administrators at Burns Science and Technology Charter School in Oak Hill, Fla., McGee quit. Some of the school administrators had threatened to resign if McGee did not resign.

“I love this school more than anything else. If that means your administration is going to stay, I tender my resignation,” McGee said as parents cheered in the school cafeteria.

McGee did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post.

Late last year, McGee said she started talking with someone she thought was Musk and quickly developed a bond with him. Brent Appy, the school’s business manager, said at Tuesday’s meeting that he warned McGee it could be a scam.

For about four months, McGee conversed with the person, and Appy said she told her co-workers that she had paid the person large sums of money. Appy said he thought McGee was paying the person with his own money, but on March 6 he said he walked into McGee’s office and noticed a check was missing from the check book of a school account.

Appy said he went through the school’s bank accounts, expecting to see that McGee had spent a few thousand dollars. He said he was shocked when he saw McGee writing a check for $100,000 to someone she believed was Musk’s assistant.

Appy said he canceled the check and McGee said she realized she was being ripped off.

“Dr. McGee has told this story many times about how passionate she is, passionate about the school,” Appy said. “She was passionate, passionate about the crook.”

At Tuesday’s crowded meeting, some parents apologized for McGee’s actions, while others called for his resignation. McGee, who has run Burns Science and Technology since it opened in August 2011, took responsibility for her online communications and said she “made the wrong decision”.

“I’m a very smart, well-educated woman,” McGee said at the meeting. “I fell for a scam.”

Board chairman Albert Amalfitano told WESH that the scammer had promised McGee to contribute about $6 million to the STEM school near Florida’s space coast. McGee filed a police report to investigate the impostor, according to the council meeting agenda.

This wasn’t the first time Musk had been spoofed online. In May 2021, the Federal Trade Commission reported that Musk impostors had earned more than $2 million from investors in cryptocurrency scams in the previous six months. last May, Musk said on Twitter that a viral video of him appearing to promote a new cryptocurrency platform was fake.

In Florida, three Burns Science and Technology Charter School trustees, including Appy, said they would quit if McGee kept his job.

“I will no longer support this individual, because I also have integrity,” said assistant manager Alexis Galerno. “And I can’t keep doing that knowing that’s what’s happening.”

As the parents rose to demand that McGee be fired, McGee asked a council member for the microphone. More than two and a half hours into the meeting, McGee announced her resignation, grabbed her notebooks and walked out of the building to the applause of parents.

Board members said they would investigate McGee’s actions and begin a nationwide search for a director.


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