Lawmakers call for state probe after Nassau comptroller’s office falls for phishing scam

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Some Nassau lawmakers are calling for a state investigation after the county comptroller’s office fell for a phishing scam.

“This incident is a reminder that anyone can be a victim of cybercrime,” said Nassau Comptroller Jack Schnirman, admitting that the county was tricked out of more than $700,000 of taxpayer money back in October, the result of a phishing scam.

“This was a focused and elaborate phishing scheme,” Schnirman said.

As News 12 reported, Schnirman testified before the county finance committee that his office received an email that appeared to be authentic. The email requested payment to a vendor the county does business with be sent to a different email address.

MORENassau comptroller in the hot seat over costly phishing scam 

But the comptroller’s office was eventually notified by their bank that the account the money had been sent to was fake.

The money has since all been returned, but Republican lawmakers are now questioning the safety of the thousands of other payments approved by the comptroller’s office.

“We can't guarantee, Jack Schnirman can't guarantee, that these mistakes haven't been happening for a significant period of time because of the inadequate controls the comptroller’s office had in place,” said Legislator Steve Rhoads.

The GOP majority is now calling on the state comptroller’s office and the Nassau County inspector general to investigate.

“This is a humiliating step for Nassau County and it's very hard for us to do, to admit that we don't have the proper controls in place to protect the taxpayers,” said Deputy Presiding Officer Howard Kopel.

Meantime Schnirman tells News 12 his office has already improved financial control.

In a statement, Schnirman said:

"We continue to enhance those controls and look to partner with leaders and experts to stay ahead of this threat. Instead of cynically playing politics with public safety, I encourage the Republican Caucus to join me in working towards proactive solutions to protect taxpayers."

Schnirman also told News 12 that local governments across the nation are experiencing cyber attacks on a regular basis. In this incident alone, three to four other municipalities on Long Island were also targeted.

 

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