Puerto Rico government loses more than £2 million in email phishing scam

13 February 2020, 09:35

The government department fell victim to the scam
The government department fell victim to the scam. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The government of Puerto Rico has lost more than £2 million after falling victim to an email phishing scam.

The island's police department said the Industrial Development Company received an email that claimed details for a bank account linked to remittance payments had changed.

The case was reported to the FBI as soon as island officials discovered the money had gone missing.

It is unclear whether officials have been able to recover any of the money and what impact the financial loss could have on the government agency.

Manuel Laboy, executive director of the agency, refused to disclose how the scam was discovered, whether anyone has been dismissed or how the company's operations have been affected by the missing funds.

"This is a very serious situation, extremely serious," he said. "We want it to be investigated until the last consequences."

The official said an internal investigation was under way to establish whether someone was negligent or did not follow standard procedure, adding that government officials are trying to recover the money.

"I cannot speculate about how these things might happen," he said.

The situation comes as the US territory remains mired in a 13-year recession that has, in part, forced the government to cut back on some services.