NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A complaint is trying to return more than $1.1 million that was stolen from New Haven Public Schools during a cyberattack earlier this year.
Thursday, multiple federal agencies, including the FBI, announced that they filed a civil asset forfeiture complaint to get $1,187,677.94 back. Investigators had previously announced that they’d recovered another $3.6 million.
Hackers were able to access the emails of the chief operation officer of New Haven Public Schools this summer.
“While we will continue to pursue criminal prosecution of the individuals involved in this scam, recovering the victim’s money is a priority,” said Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. ”Civil asset forfeiture allows the U.S. Attorney’s Office to recover money for victims of fraud, such as business email compromises, romances scams, confidence scams, and other crimes. As these fraud schemes often involve conversion of U.S. currency to digital assets, this process typically involves significant law enforcement resources and specialized training. In recent years, through the civil asset forfeiture process, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut has recovered millions of dollars for Connecticut victims, most of whom do not have the means nor the expertise to trace the money.”
Mayor Justin Elicker said that the hackers watched the email exchanges between the district’s COO, the city’s budget office and vendors. The criminals then impersonated the COO and made six successful electronic money transfers.
Four of those transactions were for a collective $5.9 million that was meant for the First Student Bus Company. The other two were for more than $76,000 to the Shipman and Goodwin Law firm.
Leaders have cleared city staff of any criminal wrongdoing. An employee in the budget office was placed on paid administrative leave but has since been cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to work.