A computer hacking incident and theft of $150,000 dollars from a northwestern Wisconsin school district has been making headlines.
In a statement from the Stanley-Boyd School District, Administrator Jim Jones said that hackers accessed the direct deposit file used to pay employees resulting in the theft of $150,000. He says some of the money has been recovered and insurance will cover the rest. The district would not agree to an interview.
It’s a familiar story says Eau Claire County Information Systems Director Dave Hayden. Two years ago he says they were hit by a similar hacking scheme.
“Ultimately it was one of the PCs in the treasurer’s office was compromised with a virus and as a result they were able to get the credentials of one of the staff members in the treasurer’s office,” he says.
Hayden says they were lucky because someone at their bank noticed a batch of suspicious wire transfers, which were blocked.
“We saw several lined up to be done," he says. "More than a dozen were attempted and the total amount was significant, nearly $1 million I think.”
Hayden says they never found out who tried stealing the money or how they did it.
Tom Ristenpart is an cyber security expert at UW-Madison. He says local governments and school districts may be at a higher risk for these types of crimes because it's easier and more profitable than credit card scams.
“Also the ability to gain the credentials needed to directly transfer funds to other bank accounts presumably in the criminals control make these juicier targets," he says.
According to the FBI there are more than 200 open cases involving bank account takeovers with more than $85 million stolen in the last few years.