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Washington County, Minn., Thwarts $3M Phishing Scam

A person posing as a vendor who was doing work for the Washington County government attempted in August to illegally redirect more than $3 million worth of the county’s funds to a fraudulent account.

Cybersecurity lock on a background of passwords
(TNS) — A person posing as a vendor doing work for Washington County attempted in August to redirect more than $3 million in county funds to a fraudulent account.

Washington County Administrator Kevin Corbid told board members about the attempted “phishing” effort during Tuesday’s board meeting.

County officials on Aug. 17 were notified by a bank of a suspicious transaction involving county funds, Corbid said.

Washington County officials, in partnership with bank employees, were able to stop the fraudulent transaction before the deposit was made. “The good news is, no funds were lost,” Corbid said.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating.

“This situation is an example of a growing number of investigations worldwide related to cybersecurity attacks on public organizations and attempts to conduct fraud,” he said. “These attempts to phish or scam or redirect funds are becoming more sophisticated and more attempts are being made, so we have to take steps to stay ahead of them.”

Among the steps the county is taking to protect county information and resources: investments in information-technology security and continued training of staff to recognize fraudulent efforts, Corbid told the board.

© 2021 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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