Eagle Mountain City falls victim to cybercrime, loses nearly $1.13 million

Posted at 9:26 AM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 19:20:32-04

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — Eagle Mountain City said it has spent "significant time" strengthening financial policies after the city fell victim to an organized cybercrime that resulted in the loss of nearly $1.13 million.

City officials said the incident happened on August 15 but it was determined to be a cybercrime on August 31. The nature of the scam stemmed from an email impersonation.

The impersonator portrayed themselves as a representative of a vendor working closely with Eagle Mountain City on a major infrastructure project, officials explained.

"Our investigation has determined that it appears that whoever was responsible, inserted themselves into an ongoing email thread between Eagle Mountain city and the vendor. So how they did this is still being investigated," said communications manager Tyler Maffitt.

The investigation revealed the money was transacted through an Automated Clearing House transfer, and city leaders say financial policies regarding ACH payments have since been strengthened.

"...ACH transfers are considered quite safe normally, which is probably why it wasn't detected," Maffitt added. "Eagle Mountain City has sent ACH transfers and before and amounts of this of this dollar size are not uncommon for the city to send to vendors."

No city employees or vendor employees are under suspicion of wrongdoing, officials state.

In an effort to prepare for cybercrime attacks, the city previously purchased an insurance policy that should help with reimbursement.

"We are currently working with the insurance provider to ensure that that those funds are reimbursed. We're confident that they will be and Eagle Mountain City's taxpayers will be will be reimbursed for that and the city will be back to normal operations," explained Maffitt.

City officials tell FOX 13 News the city budget for the fiscal year is $110 million. The infrastructure project used in the crime is mostly completed and will be unaffected.

No private information about residents, clients or vendors was compromised in the cybercrime, officials report.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Utah County Sheriff's Office are helping with the investigation and Eagle Mountain officials said they were notified "within minutes" of learning of the incident.