Faber warns of phishing, payment re-direct scams

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 23, 2024

COLUMBUS — Auditor of State Keith Faber is again urging state and local government employees to be extra diligent in reviewing requests to redirect payments from public accounts, as online scammers continue to target public offices.

At least 23 governmental offices, including cities, villages, townships, and school districts, have been affected by payment re-direct attacks over the past 12 months, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses of public funds.

“These criminals will stop at nothing as they try to convince government employees to send them money,” Faber said. “Stop, think, verify, and validate before signing off on any payouts of public funds. Make sure you know who you are sending money to before hitting send.”

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The re-direct schemes, or “business email compromises,” often involve seemingly innocent messages to government offices from individuals impersonating vendors or other employees and seeking to have payments sent to different bank accounts. 

Unsuspecting Ohio government offices, thinking they are dealing with a known vendor or employee, process the requests and change banking information without following the guidance in the Bulletin to independently verify the legitimacy of the request or the identity of the requester. 

One recent example involved the theft of more than $700,000 from the Granville Recreation District in Licking County.

 The office also has assembled information on free training and other resources to assist government offices in avoiding the phishing scams.