That scam that took half a million out of the city's coffers turned out to be a tad more than that - $503,000 to be exact.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 23rd, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The city has been transparent about the more than half a million dollars that got sucked out of an account and sent along to someone it didn’t belong to.

They were a little short on the exact amount that was taken – it was $503,000 – does $3000 make a difference.

Mayor Meed Ward issued another edition of her Newsletter and explained in the following material that will be published in another news media later this week.

“In order to provide transparency and accountability to residents, I asked our staff to provide a public update at the Sept. 11 Audit committee on what we’ve learned and how we’re protecting ourselves. The public report is available online (http://bit.ly/BurlingtonFraudUpdate).

“We learned that a single transaction was made to a falsified bank account as a result of a complex phishing email to City staff requesting to change banking information for an established City vendor.

“Upon learning of the fraudulent payment, the City immediately contacted our financial institution and the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS). A criminal investigation is underway, and as soon as we can share more about that, I will.

“The city also immediately started an internal investigation, which confirmed that our IT system was not compromised, no employees were involved in perpetrating the fraud, and no personal information was stolen or shared. Further, the city made immediate changes to our internal protocols to prevent this in future.

Meed Ward H&S

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward – would love to get that money back – chances are slim.

“I’m confident we know what happened and have made the necessary changes to protect the city. Our goal is to recover the funds and work with police to hold those who did this accountable, so they can’t target anyone else.

We know cyber fraud is a growing area of risk for municipalities, and there have been recent reports of other cities across the country falling victim to a similar scheme that ensnared Burlington. I will be raising this matter with my fellow mayors at the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario when we meet in November, so we can share our experiences and expertise to protect all our citizens.

“Cyber fraud is also a growing area of risk for organizations and individuals. One way you can protect yourself is to never share financial information online. If you get an email asking for password changes, seeking banking or other financial information, even from an agent you may do business with, call first. I also recommend visiting the HRPS website for some tips for fraud prevention and protection against cybercrime (http://bit.ly/HaltonPoliceFraudPrevention).”

The Gazette has been a consistent advocate for more in the way of public awareness. Some of our readers are getting tired of hearing us say: If in doubt don’t.

A number of years ago the Gazette collaborated with Crime Stoppers, the police and a number of the banks in putting the message directly into the hands of bank customers.

Royal V 5

Each bank that participated was given coupons with their corporate logo. More than 15,000 were distributed.

Bankers were explaining to us that they hear about the frauds after they have taken place – they were looking for a way to warn and advise their customers what to be on the watch for.

We devised a program that had coupons the banks handed out to their customers. Whenever a customer was getting cash from a teller one of the coupons was slipped into the bank notes.

The belief was that people tend not to take the time reading literature – but when they opened their wallets or purses they would come across the coupon and pay more attention.

Did it work? It certainly did. One major bank reported that they got a call from a client that prevented a significant scam from taking place.

An additional part of the program had the banks making a contribution to Crime Stoppers.

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