By Art Gallagher
An international crime syndicate with ties to the Ukraine hacked into Middletown Township’s computer system early this month and withdrew over $370,000 from the township’s bank accounts, according to confidential sources within the township. All but $13,000 of the stolen funds have been recovered.
“Who told you?” was Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore’s confirmation that the cyber attack occurred, when asked about it by MoreMonmouthMusings.
The theft was discovered by finance department personnel on September 9. The Middletown Township Police Department was able to get all but the $13,000 that had already been withdrawn from the thieves accounts frozen and returned to the township.
Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger confirmed that the majority of funds had been recovered and said there were ongoing efforts to recover the missing $13,000. Scharfenberger also said that he was told that the federal government was already investigating similar incidents at other municipalities.
Fiore said that the method of the attack was new and blocks for such attacks had not yet been developed. He said that social networking sites were being restricted from the township’s computers are a precaution against future attacks.
Special Agent Bryan L. Travers of the FBI declined to comment on a ongoing investigation or to divulge what other municipalities or businesses have be victimised.
Travers said the these types of cyber attacks usually occur on holiday weekends and advised that finance managers should conduct pending business before a holiday and shut their systems down until returning to work.