City of Burlington defrauded out of $503,000 due to phishing scam

The front entrance of Burlington City Hall. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

The City of Burlington has been defrauded out of more than half a million dollars due to a phishing email.

In a release, the city said it happened when staff received what it describes as a “complex phishing email” requesting to change banking information for an established city vendor.

An e-transfer of $503,000 was made to a fake bank account that was believed to belong to the vendor and was processed on May 16.

The city learned about the fraud on May 23 and reported it to their financial institution, as well as Halton Regional Police, who are now investigating the incident.

According to the city, it has put additional internal controls in place to prevent it from happening again in the future and is conducting a full review of its current processes to see if any other changes need to be made.

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The fraud did not result in the city’s IT system being compromised and no personal information was stolen or shared.

WATCH: (Jan. 30, 2019) Edmonton Economic Development Corp. swindled out of $375K in phishing scheme

Click to play video: 'EEDC swindled out of $375K in phishing scheme'
EEDC swindled out of $375K in phishing scheme

“We are taking this matter very seriously,” said interim city manager Tim Commisso in the statement. “City staff took immediate action including notifying members of Council and our Audit Committee when the incident was first discovered.

“We are working closely with the police on their ongoing criminal investigation and we have also initiated an independent external investigation of the incident which will be part of our reporting back to Council and the Audit Committee.”

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The city said it will not be providing any further comments while the investigation is ongoing and more information will be shared publicly when it becomes available.

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