Poughkeepsie Supervisor Patricia Myers announced on Feb. 2 that the money was transferred to banks in Ukraine after someone broke into the town's TD Bank account in Jan.
Similar thefts have occurred at businesses and government offices across the country where hackers get the online banking credentials of the business or government agency and send fraudulent ACH transactions to banks outside of the U.S. or to "money mules" who then wire the money to the hackers overseas.
Myers says four illegal transfers from the town's TD Bank account were made over two business days beginning on Jan. 12. Town leaders were tight-lipped about the ongoing criminal investigation, which prompted a closed-door meeting on Jan. 18.
Police say $95,000 of the stolen money was recovered from a Ukraine bank. The town's police and federal agents continue to probe the thefts.
"Efforts are still underway to catch those responsible and recover the remaining $283,000," Myers states in a release about the heist. "This is an ongoing, active investigation involving the Secret Service, FBI and Town of Poughkeepsie police."
Poughkeepsie Police Chief Thomas Mauro says there's no evidence that any town employees or officials were involved in the theft.
Myers says that TD Bank was immediately notified about the illegal transfers, adding, "We find it unacceptable that movement, or attempted movement, of money from a Town account to an account in Eastern Europe did not immediately raise a 'red flag' with the bank, was not questioned by anyone at the bank, but was simply processed. We are equally disappointed that in the three weeks since the thefts were detected, no representative from TD Bank has come to Town Hall to speak with us about the situation."
TD Bank issued the following statement about the incident:
"Since the law enforcement investigations into this matter are still ongoing, it would be premature to speculate on exactly how the fraud occurred. We also can't elaborate on the matter or the transfers themselves in respect to customer confidentiality. We have been in contact with the Town and are working to set up a meeting to discuss the matter. The Town is a valued customer and we are committed to working with them on this issue."
Hackers are also suspected of stealing $3 million from a Schenectady County school district in December. Most of the school district's money has been recovered.