Posts Tagged: duanesburg central school district

Oct 10

Bill Would Give Cities, Towns and Schools Same e-Banking Security Guarantees as Consumers

In response to a series of costly online banking heists perpetrated against towns, cities and school districts, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation that would extend those entities the same protections afforded to consumers who are victims of e-banking fraud.

Under “Regulation E” of the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA) consumers are not liable for financial losses due to fraud — including account takeovers due to lost or stolen usernames and passwords — if they promptly report the unauthorized activity. However, entities that experience similar fraud with a commercial or business banking account do not enjoy the same protections and often are forced to absorb the losses. Organized cyber thieves, meanwhile, have stolen more than $70 million from small to mid-sized businesses, nonprofits, towns and cities, according to the FBI.

On Sept. 29, computer crooks stole $600,000 from the coastal town of Brigantine, N.J.; seven months earlier, computer crooks stole $100,000 from Egg Harbor Township just 20 miles away. In late December 2009, an organized cyber gang took $3.8 million from the Duanesburg Central School District in Schumer’s home state. In that attack, the bank managed to retrieve some of the money, but the district is still missing roughly $500,000.

The same day as the Brigantine breach, Schumer introduced S. 3898, a bill that would extend EFTA’s Regulation E protections to certain local government entities, including municipalities and school districts. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is to define which entities are included in the categories of “municipality” and “school district.”

Steve Verdier, executive vice president and director of congressional affairs for the Independent Community Bankers of America, said the thinking behind the current law is that banks can absorb the losses from this type of fraud when it happens to consumers because there is usually a comparatively smaller amount of money involved.

“The bank is probably in no better position to protect against this type of fraud than the [business] account holder,” Verdier said. “Whereas consumers may not be as good a position to protect themselves against these types of losses, you would hope a government or school district would have employee procedures to guard against this type of thing. And if the bank is forced to start making good on these losses, that weakens its ability to serve consumers and they’re going to have to price that risk into all of their services.”

Avivah Litan, a financial fraud analyst with Gartner Inc., said there are a number of promising new technologies that banks can make available to their customers that help guard against these attacks, referring to several products that use specially encoded USB keys to load a virtual operating system on the customers computer and encrypt the keystrokes between the bank and the customer.

“Also, why limit this to schools and municipalities? Small businesses have just as much risk as school districts, as do churches for that matter,” Litan said. “So does that mean that small businesses have more resources to deal with this type of fraud than cities and counties do?”

There isn’t much — if any — likelihood that the bill will be acted upon before the November elections, in which case Schumer will need to reintroduce the bill when the 112th Congress convenes early next year.

A copy of Schumer’s bill is here (PDF).

May 10

A Stroll Down Victim Lane

Last week I traveled to Cooperstown, N.Y. to deliver a keynote address about the scourge of online banking fraud that I’ve written about so frequently this past year. I flew into Albany, and in the short, 60 minute drive west to Cooperstown, I passed through tiny Duanesburg, a town whose middle school district is still out a half million dollars from e-banking fraud. On my way to Cooperstown, I also passed within a few minutes of several other recent victims — including a wrecking firm based on Schenectady that lost $70,000 last month when organized thieves raided its online bank account.

Alexander “Sandy” Jackson‘s world started crashing down on Apr. 20, the day he learned that more than $70,000 of company’s cash had been transferred to 10 complete strangers scattered about the United States. Since then, the owner of Jackson Demolition Service has spent a good deal of time trying to retrieve that money. So far, he and his bank have recovered about one-third of the amount stolen.

Oddly enough, Jackson first learned of the fraud after being contacted by an individual who received close to $5,000 of the firm’s money.

That individual was Montgomery, Ala. resident April Overton. In March, Overton responded to an e-mail from a company that said it found her resume on, and would she be interested in a work-at-home job entering tax information on behalf of American tax filers? Overton said she accepted the job, and for more than a month worked several hours each day completing various tax forms with personal tax information sent to her via e-mail, forms that she then had to fax back to her employers, who claimed to be Tax World LLC, at

“I was basically processing tax returns, and they’d have me log in to a site every morning between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., and would send me information, have me filing out [IRS Form] 1040 tax returns,” Overton said.

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Jan 10

FBI Investigating Theft of $500,000 from NY School District

The FBI is investigating the theft of nearly a half million dollars from tiny Duanesburg Central School District in upstate New York, after cyber thieves tried to loot roughly $3.8 million from district online bank accounts last month.

On Friday, Dec. 18, thieves tried to electronically transfer $1.86 million from the district’s account at NBT Bank to an overseas account. The following Monday, the attackers attempted to move another $1.19 million to multiple overseas location. It wasn’t until the next day, when transfers totaling $758,758.70 were flagged by a bank representative as suspicious, that the two previous unauthorized transactions were discovered, school officials said.

As of today, Duanesburg and its bank have succeeded in recovering $2.55 million of the stolen funds, but the school district is still out $497,000.

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