ELLENSBURG, WA - The City of Ellensburg has announced that it has been the victim of electronic theft, and wants to share this news in order to warn other businesses and organizations about the potential impacts of a business email scheme.
Last week, the City received an email from a person representing himself as an existing vendor's accountant, to whom the City makes regular payments for ongoing projects. The vendor usually received physical checks from the City, but the email requested the vendor’s next payment to be made by electronic transfer to a Wells Fargo Bank account in Texas instead.
The request had what appeared to be proper, complete and authentic documentation, and the City made payment to what was thought to be the vendor’s bank account, but instead belonged to the fraudulent accountant.
The fraudulent accountant later told the City the transfer had been rejected by their bank and they would send new account information, which prompted more of the City's procedural steps, after which the City then learned of the fraud.
The City is now working with law enforcement and with their insurance provider to see if any of the fraudulent transfer - $185,897 - can be recovered.
While the City is taking immediate steps to resolve this particular incident, it also will review and update their policies and procedures to implement additional safeguards and reduce risks related to this and other evolving cyber threats.
Contact for additional information: Jerica Pascoe, City Finance Director (509) 962-7205