Organized computer criminals yanked more than $200,000 out of the online bank accounts of a Missouri dental practice this month, in yet another attack that exposes the financial risks that small- to mid-sized organizations face when banking online.
Dentists working at the Smile Zone, a Springfield, Mo. based dental practice that caters specifically to the needs of children, weren’t exactly all smiles on March 22. That was the day unidentified crooks sent at least $205,000 of the practice’s money to nearly a dozen individuals around the country.
Eric Hudkins, the office manager and husband of one of the dentists at Smile Zone, said the money was taken in 11 different transfers, including three large wires. Once again, it seems the attack was carried out with the help of money mules, willing or unwitting individuals hired through work-at-home job schemes over the Internet and lured into helping the attackers launder the stolen money.
“I’ve got the names, account numbers, and phone numbers for most of them, and have even looked some of them up on Facebook,” Hudkins said of the co-conspirators. “The bank talked to two of the [mule] account holders and asked them why they opened the account, who it was for, that kind of thing. Both of them said they’d had their resumes out on careerbuilder.com or monster.com and that someone they’d never met contacted them and offered to help them make some money.”
Hudkins said he contacted the FBI, and that the agent he spoke with told him the FBI wouldn’t open a case on the theft unless it was over $500,000 in losses. As it stands, he was told, his case would be lumped into a group of similar investigations that is being run out of an FBI task force in Omaha, Nebraska. It also appears there is little appetite for prosecuting the money mules, he said.
“The FBI said prosecuting these [mules] for doing anything wrong is near impossible,” Hudkins said.