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$238K check sent to hackers by mistake, Boulder County says

Insurance proceeds are expected to cover most of the loss, Boulder County said.

BOULDER, Colo. — An investigation is underway after Boulder County mistakingly sent a $238,000 check to a fraudulent account.

The county said on Friday that one of the county's vendors experienced a cyberattack, which allowed hackers to access information from the vendor to create a spearfishing email.

The email to the county appeared to be from the vendor, which led to a check being incorrectly sent to a fraudulent account, the county said.

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“Although the county has safeguards in place to prevent these types of frauds from occurring, and we successfully thwart attacks by fraudsters several times a year, we did not catch this one in time to prevent the check from being cashed,” County Administrator Jana Petersen said.

“Fraudsters continue to get more and more creative in their approaches, and we continue to enhance our safeguards to make sure to minimize the risk to taxpayer dollars.”

Boulder County said it has purchased insurance for criminal activity, and insurance proceeds are expected to cover most of the loss after all investigations are completed. 

Boulder County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation with the help of federal law enforcement.

“We take great pride in our work and in the controls we have in place to detect and prevent fraud,” Petersen said. “It’s so frustrating that this happened, and we will learn from the experience and continuously work to review and enhance our controls.”

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