School principal wrote $100k check to Elon Musk impersonator despite being cautioned of scam

Francis Akhalbey March 31, 2023
A Florida principal wrote an unauthorized $100k check to an Elon Musk impersonator -- Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson

A Florida charter school principal, who wrote an unauthorized $100,000 check to a scammer impersonating Elon Musk, tendered her resignation in the wake of the incident. According to WESH, Dr. Jan McGee, who was the principal of Burns Science and Technology Charter, went ahead to issue the check to the internet scammer despite being informed it was an impersonator.

Addressing the incident before a packed audience, McGee admitted she “fell for a scam.” She and the impersonator were said to have been in contact for at least four months, despite being notified by staff that she was talking to a scammer. The former principal also claimed she was groomed by the impersonator.

“Grooming is when you talk to somebody and you believe in them, and they get you to trust them that this is really real, and so I fell for it,” she said.

McGee had reportedly tried over the years to get a contact who could have the real Musk invest in the STEM school. She ended up falling for the impersonator claiming to be the billionaire businessman.

“Somehow she believed it,” board chair Albert Amalfitano said. “He must have been really convincing.” 

McGee ended up writing a $100,000 check from the school’s account, Amalfitano said, adding that the former principal was convinced the individual she issued the check to was very close to Musk. “Matching funds with this guy and he was supposed to give like $6 million to the school,” said Amalfitano.

McGee also needed to get authorization from the board if she was writing checks for more than $50,000 from the school’s account. But she did not do that. The school’s business manager eventually prevented the check from clearing after becoming aware of McGee’s actions, WESH reported.

“I put myself into this position and into this mess and I made a bad decision,” McGee said. Though the former principal rendered an apology, other problems were also highlighted during the meeting – with some saying she fostered a toxic working environment. 

McGee ultimately resigned after three administrators said they will quit if she remained principal. Her husband, who was also a teacher, has also left the school. 

“When you lose the respect of… When your leadership is now in question, you can’t properly lead and that’s going to cause chaos,” Amalfitano said.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: March 31, 2023


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