Nassau comptroller in the hot seat over costly phishing scam

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The Nassau County comptroller was in the hot seat Wednesday over how the county fell victim of a costly phishing scam.

Comptroller Jack Schnirman went before the Nassau County Finance Committee to testify and answer questions about the scam.

As News 12 has reported, the county forked over more than $710,000 of taxpayer money in a phishing scheme in October. The person on the other end of the scam pretended to be a vendor.

Committee Chairman Howard Kopel says lawmakers should not have learned about the scam at a news conference two weeks ago.

"We should have been told," says Kopel. "We should have been told long ago. We had no idea that everything wasn't wonderful."

Schnirman explained that his office received an email requesting that payment for a vendor the county does business with be sent to a different bank account. He said it looked authentic, even showing the vendor's correct tax ID number.

The comptroller's office was then notified by the bank that the account the money was sent to was fake.

The money was later recovered and Schnirman says new procedures are now in place.

Schnirman says future controls include setting up an online system that vendors have to log into to verify any changes, and a follow-up phone call from the comptroller's office verifying a change was requested.

"Today I am pleased to announce that these new controls have stopped at least one subsequent attempt in which a real vendor was targeted in the same way, using a mimicked email address," says Schnirman.

Kopel says he's not satisfied with the explanation or the measures put in place to stop another scam.

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