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No suspects in county hacker case, but some funds recovered

HUERFANO — While investigative efforts have not determined who hacked Huerfano County electronic accounts twice in 2013, work by banking fraud investigators at both Bank of the West and Bank Midwest, National Association, Kansas City, Missouri, (Bank Midwest, National Association, which is owned by National Bank Holdings (NBH) of Massachusetts) the parent company of Community Banks of Colorado, have recovered a majority of the funds stolen. In July last year, it was discovered $83,000 in illegal fund transfers had been made in an electronic account between the county and Community Banks. Huerfano County Treasurer and Public Trustee Debra Reynolds said all of those funds were recovered by August. No suspects have been discovered in that case. In November 2013, it was discovered $146,251.74 had been stolen when hackers made illegal transfers from county accounts at Bank of the West. Originally it was reported over $225,000 was on its way out of the electronic door when the fraud was found out. Reynolds said this week that Bank of the West fraud and Internet security personnel had traced a total of $112,360.27 to accounts in banks in Virginia, Nevada and California. Those funds have been recovered by Bank of the West and have been returned to Huerfano County accounts in two batches, one for $90,922.24 and the other for $21,438.03. While the private banking investigation continues, a federal criminal investigation into the case is being handled by the FBI. Huerfano County still has $33,890.73 to be recovered from the November incident. County officials say a total of eight fraudulent wire transfers were discovered in the investigation in this incident. “Bank of the West did an excellent job in collecting the funds,” said Reynolds. “The FBI was involved in the investigation and will provide the county with any information if and when an arrest is made,” she said. Reynolds said all of the county’s electronic banking security systems, such as Firewall protection and electronic banking procedures have been reviewed and tightened. She said only one computer within her office is now being used for electronic banking business. An outside firm was hired by the county to review electronic banking and transfer operations and suggestions to prevent future hacking were put into place as those specialists worked with the county’s IT (Information Technology) department. County administrator John Galusha updated the board of county commissioners on the situation during their regular meeting last week.