Hackers impersonating the New Haven (Connecticut) school district’s chief operating officer stole more than $6 million in city funds that were largely meant to pay for school buses.
The New Haven Independent reports that the city has recovered more than half of that public money — as it investigates what went wrong.
Here’s what happened, according to New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker:
In late-May through mid-June, six cyberattacks netted hackers just over $6 million in city money.
The hackers appear to have gained access to the email account of New Haven Public Schools Chief Operating Officer Thomas Lamb.
Lamb had the authority to authorize electronic transfers that have already been approved in the annual budget, the mayor said.
Two of the stolen payments adding up to $76,000 were meant to Shipman & Goodwin, a law firm that represens the school system. Four of the stolen payments, adding up to over $5.9 million, were meant for First Student, a school bus contractor that provides transportation for the district.
The city’s finance department processed the electronic transfer requests it had received. On June 23, the city’s budget office learned that a theft had taken place when First Student asked why it hadn’t been paid.
The city’s budget office identified the problem, stopped making electronic transfers, and contacted local police and the FBI. An attempted cyberattack in early July was thwarted when a transfer was rejected by the city’s budget office.