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Scammers steal $20K from Alaska city through fake invoice

March 1, 2019

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — A city in southeast Alaska lost nearly $20,000 after scammers sent an invoice through a spoofed email account.

The infrastructure firm Moffat & Nichol emailed a real invoice to the Ketchikan Port and Harbors Department in mid-November, but later the same day the city received a fraudulent email, The Ketchikan Daily News reported.

According to city documents, scammers copied the firm’s email address, only changing a single character. The fake email contained an invoice with the same information and numbers.

The city electronically paid the fake bill. It was alerted to the scam when the firm resent the real invoice the next month.

“We’re putting some interim measures in place to try to tighten that up. And we’re also going to be bringing in specialized training for the departments and the people involved in this,” City Manager Karl Amylon told the City Council.

The city’s insurance carrier covered all but $2,500 of the loss.

The city’s information technology director, Curtis Thomas, said the city’s IT infrastructure wasn’t compromised. He said the spam email wasn’t caught because it was part of an existing email thread.

Other than saying their system wasn’t compromised, Moffat & Nichol declined comment.

Ketchikan police are investigating. No arrests have been made.

Andy Berntson, the Police Department’s lieutenant of investigations, noted the rise and increased sophistication of cybercrimes.

“It’s weekly that we’re getting calls on some kind of internet related fraud or crime,” he said. “And often it’s after a loss of some significant money.”


Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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