UGA police investigating alleged fraud within athletics fundraising

ATHENS — University of Georgia police are investigating an alleged act of financial fraud committed within the athletic association’s development office earlier this year.

The police department opened an investigation on Feb. 1 in response to a complaint filed by Ford Williams, UGA’s executive associate director for major gifts. Police suspect an unknown individual committed identity theft and fraud by using counterfeit info to solicit money from UGA donors and directing it into personal accounts. The amount of money involved was not included in the report.

“An unknown person unlawfully represented themselves as (Williams) by using their name and electronic signature to solicit unlawful donations via email,” police said in the initial report.

It is believed that the act was committed by someone employed in UGA’s development office, according to a person familiar with the situation.

UGA raised approximately $34 million in football ticket revenue as of Dec. 31, 2021, according to the athletic association’s latest treasurer’s report. The athletic department raises money from donors through two primary funds: the Magill Society, which has more than 1,100 members, and The Bill Hartman Fund, which is the longtime account for athletic ticket sales. A minimum donation is required for the right to buy Georgia football tickets. The Bulldogs sell out of their allotment of 60,000 season football tickets every year.

UGA Athletics maintains approximately $71 million in unrestricted assets, $61 million of which is tied up in investments through the UGA Foundation. Its budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30 is $150.5 million.

UGA officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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