Hackers Steal $4.2m from State Troopers’ Pension Fund
Cyber-thieves targeting a pension fund for law enforcement officers employed by the state of Oklahoma have made off with $4.2 million.
The money was stolen from a fund of more than $1 billion set aside to pay pensions and benefits to around 1,500 retired highway troopers, park rangers, state agents, and other law enforcement officers.
The theft occurred on August 26, 2019, when the perpetrators managed to hack into the email account of an investment manager working on behalf of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System (OLERS) agency. A separate pension fund managed by the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System (OPPRS) was not affected.
In a statement posted to their website ten days after the theft occurred, OLERS declared that “no pension benefits to members or beneficiaries have been impacted or put at risk,” and that “all benefits will continue to be paid in a timely fashion as always.”
An investigation into the crime has been launched by the FBI, and attempts are being made to recover the stolen money. OLERS is extremely confident regarding the outcome of such efforts, stating on their website, “We are certain the stolen funds will be recovered.”
OLERS executive director Duane Michael told The Oklahoman newspaper on Thursday that $477,000 has been retrieved so far.
Retired state trooper and president of OLERS Roy Rogers added that the agency’s insurance will cover the loss if the funds cannot be recovered in full.
In a bid to prevent the re-occurrence of such a crime, employees at the agency are receiving cybersecurity training.
The individual whose email account was compromised by hackers will remain in their position, with the agency taking the view that such incidents are now an unfortunate part of daily life.
Rogers said of cybercrime, “It happens every day. It can happen to an individual. It can happen to a state. It can happen to a company . . . this kind of crime has just got rampant.”
A similar crime took place in 2016, when hackers stole $100,000 from a Pennsylvania borough’s police pension fund. And in Iowa in 2017, hackers stole the identities of more than 100 retired public employees to illegally claim their pension payments.