Confidential information of employees, former employees and elected officials of the City of Batavia was stolen in a phishing scam, officials said.
The city announced Friday that personal and financial information of 268 people was compromised through a bogus email. The information stolen included names, Social Security numbers, addresses and earnings.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, phishing is when scammers use fraudulent emails or copycat websites to get valuable personal information, such as Social Security numbers or computer login IDs and passwords.
Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman said an employee responded to an email Jan. 31 that appeared as though it came from Newman and requested W-2 tax form information.
“The employee questioned (the email) after they sent it,” Newman said.
She said a different employee inquired if the city administrator had made the request for W-2 information.
Newman said it was not an internal hack of the city’s computer system. The scammers did not get into the city’s internal system, the city administrator said. It was a response to a request that led to the information being stolen, she said.
There have been reports across the country of other phishing scams hitting municipalities, schools and hospitals, city officials said.
Newman said the city has 240 employees. However, the recent breach also included personal information of previous employees and members of the City Council who received a W-2 form in 2017.
Newman said the city immediately alerted employees and is taking action to limit the potential risks to employees affected by the theft of information. She said Batavia police are conducting an investigation.
“We have notified our insurance carrier and they have put us in contact with cyber security specialists for us to formulate our response to the situation,” Newman said.
Newman met with groups of employees on Friday. She said city employees will be provided with one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection.
Linda Girardi is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.