Jonesboro Police investigate hacking of library bank accounts

Published: Sep. 21, 2011 at 12:30 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2011 at 9:50 AM CDT
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By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Computer hackers have left the Jonesboro Public Library high and dry after stealing over $37,000.

None of the library employees or the bank is suspected of wrong doing. Since representatives with the library found out about the whole ordeal, the bank accounts have been closed. According to the library's Director of Technology Ben Bizzle, these criminals worked fast.

"They already had fake bank accounts set up all over the country. Once they gained access to the payroll account information, they were able to access it, which they immediately whiped empty," said Bizzle.

The thieves had already transferred over 37,000 dollars on Sept. 14. Bizzle says it wasn't until last week, when the library received an e-mail from Liberty Bank about another transaction of 40 thousand dollar set to be paid, before they knew anything had happened.

"It was definitely a professional that organized the attack that occurred. It wasn't something that was specifically targeted toward the library. These spoof e-mails go out to lots of businesses," said Bizzle.

Bizzle suspects the hacker gained access to the system after an employee clicked on a link in a spoofed e-mail that appeared to be legitimate. "We have virus protection throughout the system, but new virus definitions are created everyday. These e-mails for instance told us there was a problem with one of our transactions, which we weren't familiar with what transaction would be a problem," said Bizzle.

The business manager's computer has been turned over to a specialist at the Jonesboro Police Department. Bizzle hopes to encourage other business owners to be extra cautious.

"Thirty-seven thousand dollars is definitely a significant amount of money. Being a public library it's more significant, than if we were a multi-billion dollar company. I think as a warning to people, I would tell them to meet with their staff, which we have done," said Bizzle.

Library Director Phyllis Burkett says the loss will not effect employees, but could cause problems in January when they begin to discuss next years budget.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.