Scams are more sophisticated, but strategies can combat cyber criminals

“Municipalities are more and more of a target for cyber criminals,” said Nick Machovec, who works with municipal and business clients on cyber-related insurance for Molyneaux, an insurance agency in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

That could be because public agencies operate on tight budgets, are understaffed, or may not have enough funds to mount costly defenses to system breaches, Machovec said.

Since January 2020, the Iowa Auditor’s Office has issued four advisories to governmental entities alerting them to potential illegal activity. Three urged municipalities to be wary of fake emails. In January 2020, the Auditor’s Office warned “several entities” had experienced attempts at cyber attacks, and described situations similar to the Quad-Cities scams. In Iowa, government entities are required to notify the Auditor’s Office of fraud, misuse of public monies, and scams.

In more sophisticated social engineering fraud, an email account is compromised months before payment requests are made, allowing the scammers to monitor emails, and time payment requests so financial officers don’t question it, and include company logos and language that doesn’t arouse suspicion.  

Although three similar scams happened in the Quad-Cities, Machovec says that isn’t unusual. When public entities get scammed, there tends to be more publicity because it’s public money. Rock Island County held a press…

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