Cyberthieves steal $400,000 from Bank of America

The account -- now frozen -- is used to pay city government workers in Burlington, Wash., via direct deposit.

Residents and city workers in Burlington, Wash., have been told to check their accounts after $400,000 was stolen from a city bank account.

City officials believe that the security breach resulted from the infiltration of a government account used to pay workers in the town, which is about 65 miles north of Seattle.

Although the exact amount of money stolen is not fully tallied, more than $400,000 has been transferred over the past two days, according to Seattle-based KOMO News.

The city first learned of the attack after an East Coast bank queried a number of account transfers that appeared "suspicious."

City workers paid from the account were part of a direct electronic-payroll deposit program. Each city worker has been notified that the account has been attacked and has been told to contact their banks or close the account used by the payment system for security's sake. In addition, the city has suggested workers contact credit reporting agencies in case any of them become victims of identity theft.

Residents of Burlington who are enrolled in the city's sewer and storm drain service may also have been affected.

"Any time that more than $400,000 actually moves out of a city of Burlington account, there can't possibly be a joke involved," said Bryan Harrison, a town administrator. "It actually is very chilling."

Naturally, the city account -- held at the Bank of America -- has been frozen.

Harrison told Computer World: "At this point, we don't know the full extent of the exposure."

The U.S. Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating the security breach.

The FBI estimates that these types of attacks -- although often conducted on a smaller scale -- have cost U.S. businesses and banks millions of dollars in the last few years.

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