Holyoke's treasurer discusses 'spoofing' incident that cost city - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Holyoke's treasurer discusses 'spoofing' incident that cost city nearly $10K

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

The city of Holyoke has fallen victim to a cyber attack.

The cyber attacker used a tactic called 'spoofing' to trick the city treasurer into wiring nearly $10,000.

A mistake cost the city nearly $10,000 back in June and the public is just learning about it this week.

Eight months after a cyber attack hits Holyoke's city treasurer, the mayor's office releases a statement, writing:

"In June, the city treasurer received a message that appeared to be from another municipal financial department.  It requested a wire transfer be made, a common occurrence in municipal finance."

"I could have thrown up," said Holyoke city treasurer Sandra Smith.

Smith said that she wired $9,997 to who she thought was a city department head after receiving a late afternoon email.

"It said 'I know you're very busy. Could you do me a favor and wire this money?  Send me the confirmation, I need to have it in today'," Smith added.

In an exclusive interview, Smith told Western Mass News that the email she received looked like it came from the cell phone number of that department head and this didn't raise any red flags because she's received emails like that from him in the past. 

However, when she sent her confirmation to him, she used his direct email address.

"The department head called me and said, 'Geez, I don't know what you're talking about, Sandy' and I said oh boy," Smith explained.

Smith phoned the Holyoke Police Department.

A suspect was later identified on Long Island, NY, but none of this information was made available to the public until Monday night.

"It's sad that the council and the public are learning about it now in February of 2018," said Ward 2 city councilor Nelson Roman.

Roman said that he's concerned about transparency.

"Ten-thousand is no small amount. That's part of someone's salary, or a street light getting fixed," Roman added.

Now, along with other city councilors, Roman has written orders asking Smith to appear before the public service subcommittee and that going forward, department heads must notify the city council of missing funds within three business days.

"I did take care of it in a timely fashion.  It wasn't like we sat on it.  It was immediately addressed," Smith said.

Smith said that she takes full responsibility.

"This issue was an isolated issue, it has never happened to me," Smith noted.

Smith said that she has changed protocol for wire transfers since this all happened.

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