Hacker steals $150,000 from school district payroll account

2012-11-28T00:00:00Z 2012-11-28T06:11:22Z Hacker steals $150,000 from school district payroll accountThe Chippewa Herald La Crosse Tribune
November 28, 2012 12:00 am  • 

STANLEY, Wis. — A hacker stole nearly $150,000 from a western Wisconsin school district after penetrating its payroll software system.

Anchor Bank handles payroll services for the Stanley-Boyd School District in Chippewa County.

It said Tuesday afternoon it had already recovered some of the funds stolen from the district’s Nov. 23 payroll, said district Superintendent Jim Jones.

“Unfortunately, hackers appear to have accessed our direct deposit file, which resulted in a loss of approximately $150,000,” Jones said.

The bank alerted the district about 4 p.m. the day before Thanksgiving.

Anchor Bank, based in Madison, was able to pay all Stanley-Boyd employees on time Friday. Jones said the school district’s liability insurance will cover the loss.

The FBI is handling the investigation.

There’s no evidence to suggest the bank’s computer systems were compromised, said Anchor spokeswoman Jennifer Ranville.

“We are ... working with our impacted customers that are employees of the school district to close out their accounts and open new ones, since their account information may have been compromised,” she said.  “No other Anchor Bank customer accounts were impacted by this event.”

Bob Seidl, president of the Stanley-Boyd teacher’s union, said district employees have been directed not to comment as the investigation continues.

“Obviously, people are concerned,” Seidl said of the staff members at Stanley-Boyd.

Jones said the school district is examining its security options as well.

“Beyond the obvious changing of system passwords within the district, we have already worked with Anchor Bank to make our system of money transferring more secure on our end in the future,” Jones said.

Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk said the Stanley-Boyd case is an unusual one for Chippewa County.

Since his office has not been involved in the criminal investigation, Kowalczyk couldn’t comment specifically on the incident. But, the sheriff said, “I’m guessing there is a strong possibility that the hacker involved in this is not in the continental U.S.”

Copyright 2015 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. Serious51
    Report Abuse
    Serious51 - November 28, 2012 8:39 pm
    When I served as a federal prosecutor, white collar crimes including IT incursions, were not especially difficult to investigate and prosecute. Now the complexities have made logarithmic leaps and few prosecutors can handle the implications for a successful prosecution if the perpetrator lives outside the US. I hope more information is published as it comes out on this troubling affair.
  2. ThaTruth
    Report Abuse
    ThaTruth - November 28, 2012 7:00 pm
    hackers can do some amazing things. passwords aren't usually that hard for them to obtain or finding a backdoor in. that's sad hopefully they find him. I'm sure he will sit a few months then go to work for the fbi
  3. Maerzie
    Report Abuse
    Maerzie - November 28, 2012 11:47 am
    It must've been someone privy to the password because I would expect a school system would have at least THAT MUCH security! It'll be interesting to follow until the catch the culprit!

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