Criminals hack Town of Poughkeepsie online bank account

Town officials say $378,000 was siphoned to overseas accounts, criticize bank for not catching the theft

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Criminals stole $378,000 from an online banking account of the Town of Poughkeepsie in New York, town officials announced last week.

The money was stolen in four unauthorized transfers from the town's TD Bank account on Jan. 12, and deposited into bank accounts in the Ukraine, Supervisor Patricia Myers said in a statement reportedly read to the Town Board during a meeting. According to Myers' statement, posted on Poughkeepsie's website, $95,000 has been recovered and the case is under investigation by the Secret Service, FBI, TD Bank and town police.

The unauthorized transactions were discovered Jan. 13. Poughkeepsie immediately changed all the account numbers and is working to recover the remaining $283,000 in stolen funds.

In her statement, Myers took Cherry Hill, N.J.-based TD Bank to task for not catching the unauthorized transfers.

"We find it unacceptable that movement, or attempted movement of money from a Town account to an account in Eastern Europe did not immediately raise a 'red flag' with the bank, was not questioned by anyone at the bank, but was simply processed," she said. "We are equally disappointed that in the three weeks since the thefts were detected, no representative from TD Bank has come to Town Hall to speak with us about the situation."

In response, a TD Bank spokeswoman issued this statement:

"Since the law enforcement investigations into this matter are still ongoing, it would be premature to speculate on exactly how the fraud occurred. We also can't elaborate on the matter or the transfers themselves in respect to customer confidentiality. We have been in contact with the Town and are working to set up a meeting to discuss the matter. The Town is a valued Customer and we are committed to working with them on this issue."

The bank may have more information about the case after the FBI and Secret Service complete their investigation, the spokeswoman said.

Law enforcement authorities and financial industry groups have warned of a surge in online banking fraud and unauthorized Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers. The attacks fueled $100 million in attempted losses from small and midsize businesses, the FBI reported last fall.

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