FBI investigates apparent hacking of school district payroll - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: School district releases statement about apparent payroll hacking

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Stanley-Boyd (WQOW) - Less than a week after $150,000 disappeared from a local school district, some of the money has been recovered.

The Stanley-Boyd School District says last Wednesday, AnchorBank alerted the district that there was a concern with the November 23rd payroll.  The district says it appears hackers accessed the direct deposit file.  The FBI is now investigating what happened.

An AnchorBank spokesperson says there's no evidence their systems were compromised, but it did work with the district to make sure employees were paid.  "Stanley-Boyd employees did receive their payroll on time, but I can't get into the specifics of how that happened, other than to say that AnchorBank employees worked really late into the evening to ensure that employees did receive the money that they were expecting on time," says AnchorBank Public Relations Director Jennifer Ranville.

Ranville says they're working with school district employees who are also bank customers.  "We are working with all of the impacted customers, and those would-be customers that are employees of the school district to close out their accounts, and open new ones, because their account information may have been compromised.  Again, that's because they were employees of the school district.  No other AnchorBank customer accounts were impacted by the event," said Ranville.

Monday night, the school board met to discuss the situation but did not open that meeting to the public.

The Department of Public Instruction says no one from Stanley-Boyd has contacted the state, but the school district may not be required to do so.  The DPI has a mechanism for districts to report internal fraud, but says it's not involved in cases concerning external theft.  

Statement from the Stanley-Boyd School District

At approximately 4:00 pm last Wednesday, November 21, AnchorBank alerted us that there was a concern with our November 23 payroll.  Unfortunately, hackers appear to have accessed our direct deposit file which resulted in a loss of approximately $150,000.

At this point, the FBI is investigating the infiltration to determine where that infiltration took place.  We have been advised not to continue to discuss the situation until the investigation has been completed.  I would like to add that Anchor Bank representatives worked late into the evening on Wednesday to ensure that all Stanley-Boyd employees received their paychecks on time and the bank has continued to work with the school district to make sure our funds are fully recovered.

As a good employer, the school district is currently looking into various options for providing protection for our employees.  Beyond the obvious changing of system passwords within the District, we have already worked with Anchor Bank to make our system of money transferring more secure on our end in the future.  We also are looking into various options for providing individual financial protection for our employees.  Finally, we want the taxpayers and parents of our District to know that this will not have an impact on our educational program.  The bank has already retrieved a good portion of our money and is continuing to retrieve more.  In the event we cannot retrieve all of our money, the District carries liability insurance which covers these type situations.

Again, while we understand that there is a desire to know more information, the investigation is being completed by the FBI and the District will not comment beyond this statement until that investigation has been completed.     

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