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Dothan Agency Experiences Unauthorized Money Withdrawal

A local government agency found money missing from its account. Officials say the agency had been victim to online theft.

An Internet thief made unauthorized access to an online banking account and fetched an undisclosed sum of money from the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, a Dothan regional planning agency. The Commission director said that computer hackers plunged into their online account.

The Commission was astonished to discover an unauthorized entry into their Internet banking account with their local bank on February 13, 2007, said Tom Soloman, executive director of the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission on February 22, 2007.

The hackers appear to be from an offshore country. Investigation is on to find how they managed into the account. Soloman said its Commission is working closely with the bank and also the law enforcement authorities to determine the course of the incident. He, however, said that the agency uses measures to protect all its information, both computerized and online.

Soloman said the Commission contacted its bank as soon as it found the fraud and have been putting its inputs to help the bank and law enforcement officials find out everything about the theft so that it can recover its lost funds.

The agency came to know about the fraud when one of the staff accountants discovered a certain amount of money missing from the online account from where it pays salaries. The account has been taken offline following the incident.

The theft means thousands of dollars went unaccounted for out of the Commission's account. Soloman said the Commission working from Houston County Administration Building reported to the Dothan Police Department and also ensured that the local law enforcement knew about the entire incident.

The Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission came into being in late 1960s to raise economic development, education and senior citizen support for communities. The FBI has taken up the case as some of the lost money may include federal funds that may have moved across state boundaries. FBI agent Tim White said it was using all information for a full investigation.

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