County loses more than $500,000 in hack

Authorities say it could take months to figure out who hacked into a city employee’s email address to steal more than $500,000 from Dubuque County, Iowa.

On Thursday, the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department was notified that there had been an issue with funds transferring from the county’s auditor’s office to Dyersville, Iowa. The funds were approved by the American Rescue Plan Act and had been granted to the city to be used for projects.

“This person was a little more sophisticated. It appears they had hacked the system and were legitimately sending emails from someone’s email address out of the city of Dyersville,” Dubuque County Sheriff Joseph Kennedy said.

The person had requested those funds be transferred and the county made the payment. Later, the city of Dyersville reached out to the county to check the status of the money because the payment had never been received.

“Unfortunately the transfer was made, so now we’re just trying to investigate the matter to the best of our ability,” Kennedy said.

In total, $524,283.88 was stolen from Dubuque County.

Kennedy says they may not be able to find out who took the money until the person responsible takes it to the bank.

“Email addresses and all these other things can be faked, but money, you really need a real person,” Kennedy said. “You can’t get a bank account without an ID and without paperwork, so really what you try to do is chase the money around from bank to bank hoping you can catch it still within the continental United States.”

It could take months to find out who is responsible for the hack if authorities are even able to catch the person at all.

“Once that money goes overseas, if that’s the case, we have not determined that yet, but once we determine whether or not it went overseas, if it did go overseas, it’s gone,” Kennedy said.