Lynsi Burton reports that Burlington, Washington lost $400,000 to hackers who transferred city funds over a two-day period to various accounts around the country. City workers were also notified that their direct deposit bank account information was compromised and that they should cancel or red flag their accounts. The city’s bank account with Bank of America has been frozen, but there’s no indication as to why the fraudulent transfers weren’t detected and blocked sooner than two days. (Note: see update about time-frame, which doesn’t appear to be two-day period).
The news coverage also does not mention that any customer accounts were affected, but in digging into this story a bit more, I found a notice on the city’s Finance Department web site that indicates customers using autopay are also affected:
EMERGENCY ALERT! ATTN: UTILITY CUSTOMERS
It has come to the City’s attention that the City’s Utility Billing Automatic Withdrawal information (for sewer and storm drain charges) has been compromised. If you are enrolled in Autopay, you should assume that your name, bank, bank account number and routing number have been compromised.
ALL AUTOPAY CUSTOMERS SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CONTACT THEIR BANK OR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION.
The City immediately closed the affected bank account and will not be withdrawing the funds owed for your July/August 2012 City of Burlington Utility Bill on October 15, 2012 as previously stated on your bill.
Please make arrangements to do one of the following to pay your bill by October 31, 2012:
1. Use your online bill pay option through your banking institution
2. Pay by check (mail to 833 S Spruce Street, Burlington, WA 98233)
3. Call 360-755-0531 and pay with a VISA , MasterCard or Discover credit or debit card
WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE!
Bryan Harrison, City Administrator
Update 1 (Oct. 14): In coverage today, AP reports that the transfers occurred between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, so that’s not as bad as the two-day impression previous coverage suggested.