How other Canadian municipalities lost money to fraudsters and hackers
A keyboard is seen in this undated file photo.
CTV News Saskatoon
Published Thursday, August 15, 2019 4:54PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, August 15, 2019 5:41PM CST
After forking over $1.04 million to a person pretending to work for a construction company in what's known as a whaling scam, Saskatoon is the latest Canadian municipality to be caught in a fraud scheme. But it's not the only one.
Here are some other cases in which cities have lost taxpayer cash to bandwidth bandits.
Ottawa city treasurer duped into transferring $130K to email fraudsters
Ottawa’s city treasurer was scammed into wire-transferring more than $130,000 of taxpayer funds to a fraudster after she fell for an email scam last year.
Marian Simulik received an email from an address she thought belonged to city manager Steve Kanellakos. Someone posing as Kanellakos asked Simulik to wire transfer about $130,000 to pay a city supplier. After several email exchanges with the fraudsters, Simulik agreed to send the funds to a U.S. bank account later that day.
Five days later, the city treasurer received another email from the same account asking her to transfer another US$150,000 or CAD$200,000 to the same company to complete the bill payment.
This time, however, Simulik was sitting near Kanellakos in a meeting when the email came in so she asked him about it in person. When he didn’t know what she was talking about, they both realized she had been the victim of a scam.
City of Burlington, Ont. fell for $503,000 phishing scam
City officials in Burlington said in June that the city fell prey to a phishing scam that ended up costing more than half a million dollars.
They say a staff member made a single transaction to a "falsified bank account" after receiving an email requesting to change banking information for someone the city was already doing business with.
Officials say the staffer transferred $503,000 to the phoney bank account on May 16.
The city said it has since added more internal controls to prevent the same thing from happening again.
Quebec region paid $30,000 Bitcoin ransom after servers hacked
Last September, staff in the regional municipality of Mekinac, Que. got a threatening message on their computers notifying them they were locked out of all their files.
The attackers had used ransomware to demand money in return for keys to unlock the data.
After about two weeks, Mekinac's IT department eventually negotiated the cyber extortionists down and paid $30,000 in Bitcoin to regain access.
Midland, Ont. paid ransom to restore computers
Around the same time, officials in Midland, Ont., paid off the hackers who had held the municipality’s computer systems for ransom.
Anonymous hackers took the town’s encryption keys hostage, rendering its computer operations useless for 48 hours.
The town did not disclose how much money it paid the hackers in the ransomware scam, but said they had beefed up insurance protections following a similar attack in nearby Wasaga Beach, Ont., so taxpayers were only on the hook for the insurance premium.
Bitcoin-demanding hackers cost Wasaga Beach $250K
The Town of Wasaga Beach, Ont. was out more than $250,000 after all of its data was locked April 30 as part of a ransomware scam.
The scammers initially demanded 11 Bitcoins, worth approximately $144,000 at the time, to release the 11 servers.
After seven weeks, the town was able to negotiate the price down to three Bitcoins, or about $35,000, for four servers containing the vast majority of the town’s data. No personal information was compromised.
Factoring in payments to consultants and other experts as well as overtime and lost productivity costs, town officials estimate that the total cost of the hack surpassed $250,000.
With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press