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City of Fort Lauderdale scammed out of $1.2 million during phishing attack

Fort Lauderdale trying to recoup $1.2M lost to phishing scame
Fort Lauderdale trying to recoup $1.2M lost to phishing scame 02:11

FORT LAUDERDALE - The city of Fort Lauderdale has become the latest municipality to become a victim of a cyber security attack.

Police said the scammer, posing as an entity named Moss Construction, sent what appeared to be a legitimate invoice to the city last week. After a city officials authorized the $1.2 million payment to be sent, officials concluded that the request was fraudulent.

Scammers usually send emails or texts in hopes of getting a response and often pose as companies or organizations you trust, sending a link in their request for money.

But once the link is opened, the scammers can access their victims' personal information.

Investigators say these scams happen every day, unfortunately.

"We're seeing this all the time," said Reginald Andre of Ark Solvers Cyber Security. "I'm just surprised that this happened because $1.2 million without those checks and balances. You just don't send that type of money."

Andre said the city could face several challenges while trying to recoup the funds.

"If it's an international transfer, that's going to be really difficult because if it's going to a country like Iran, North Korea, China - it's going to be very difficult to get back," he said. "But if it's a domestic (suspect) and it happened within the United States the chances are you're going to be able to work with the FBI and be able to get the money back."

Andre says it typically takes about 30 days to retrieve the stolen funds.

Andre provided several tips to protect people from becoming the victim of an online scam:

  • Verifying who you're communicating with online by picking up the phone and calling the person of contact.
  • When receiving an email that looks suspicious, always check the domain name to see if you've had prior correspondence.
  • Never click on a link that you're unsure of.

It's unclear when the city will get the money back and police are urging citizens to be vigilant when checking texts and emails.

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