Cape Cod Community College Working to Recover Over $800K in Stolen Funds

WEST BARNSTABLE – Leaders at Cape Cod Community College say they’re confident that most of the $807,130 stolen from the school by hackers will be recovered.

President John Cox described the incident to school staff on Monday, in which a malware virus was unintentionally downloaded from an email and spread across the school’s network. Despite attempts to quarantine it to the source computer, the malware was able to access the college’s bank accounts.

“During the last week of November going into the first week of December, we had a situation where a computer in the administration building on our campus was infected with a piece of really sophisticated, very aggressive and dangerous malware. It came through on an email we received on that computer. It bypassed the standard anti-virus protection that our computers have, it was that sophisticated,” College Spokesman Patrick Stone explained.

“Once it was quarantined from that computer it jumped to another computer on our network, ultimately infecting a computer in an office related to college banking. From there the scam sort of became more advanced, including a fraudulent phone call from the hackers posing as bank representatives, which again bypassed our antivirus software and ultimately led to the college losing $800,000 in fraudulently transferred money.”

The college reports a total of 12 transactions were attempted by the hackers, three of which TD Bank froze after identifying them as unusual. The remaining nine transfers were able to be successfully completed. Cox says it took less than 30-minutes for the funds to be transferred.

Cox noted to staff that the college has managed finances in such a way that payroll isn’t effected, and that the school can still pay its bills. He announced that plans for the new Science and Engineering Building would not be affected as well.

Ernst & Young, an accounting firm, and the state comptroller’s office are conducting a review of the network to ensure all viruses have been removed. The state comptroller’s office is also underwriting some, or all of the costs involved in the theft.

“We know that there were similar malware attacks at several other colleges and entities in the state. Whether or not those are the same people, whether or not it’s the same type of attack, whether or not this was one coordinated effort, we don’t know and it’s not really our position to say,” said Stone.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

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