State Auditor Dave Yost is holding a press conference today at the Statehouse in Columbus to discuss what he calls a recent increase in cybercrimes targeting local governments.
Meanwhile, Liberty Township officials and police in Delaware County are apparently still trying to figure out who forged a $134,000 check on the township’s bank account and cashed the check near London, England.
A spokesman for Yost, a former Delaware County prosecutor, told The Gazette on Wednesday that the press conference is not about the Liberty Township forged check.
Township fiscal officer Nancy Denutte told The Gazette last week that she believes the forged check — complete with the signatures of three township trustees — was all done online.
“Auditor Yost will discuss several cybercrimes committed against local governments and school districts in recent months,” said a prepared statement from his office. “The attacks have cost entities in numerous counties, including Delaware, Clinton, Morrow and Warren, thousands of tax dollars.”
“Yost will explain the methods used by the perpetrators and provide guidance on how governments can avoid falling victim to the attacks,” the statement said.
The press conference will be at 2 p.m. today in the Harding Briefing Room at the Statehouse.
Denutte discovered the forged check recently when reconciling the township’s bank account.
The forged check was made out to a used-car dealership in Great Britain, Saunders Abbott, in Sidcup near London and processed through the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Officials at the Royal Bank of Scotland, who originally cleared the $134,000 forged check, say they did not have direct contact with the township’s bank, Delaware County Bank.
“I can confirm that RBS doesn’t directly contact a foreign bank when it takes in a check,” said Andrew Neilson, communications and marketing for the Royal Bank of Scotland. “Any contact is done through an agency bank.”
“When a cheque is paid in at the branch, it would be sent to International Banking Operations who then arrange bulk transport back to the U.S. via an agency bank,” said Neilson via email. “Following, the cheque enters the standard U.S. cheque clearing system.”
The Delaware County Bank apparently cleared the $134,000 forged check written against Liberty Township’s bank account, Denutte told The Gazette last week. However, the funds were restored to the township’s account the next day by the bank, she said.
Banks are protected against the loss of funds through insurance. “All banks carry some sort of insurance against theft and funds loss,” said James Thurston, vice president of public relations for the Ohio Bankers League.
The Delaware County Bank has declined to discuss the forgery with The Gazette. “The management of the Delaware County Bank respectfully declines your offer for a personal interview and DCB will have no further comment on this matter,” said Jay Wolf, first vice president of marketing and customer relations, in an email.
The Gazette on Wednesday morning contacted a man at the Saunders Abbott used-car dealership in Sidcup, who identified himself as the manager but would not provide his name. “We don’t talk to reporters,” he said. “We keep our business private.” He then hung up the phone.
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office was called in to investigate the forged check locally and is now taking it to federal officials.
“We reached out to the (U.S.) Department of Justice who reaches out to Interpol — the International Criminal Police Organization,” said Tracy Whited, spokeswoman for the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office. “Our part is done, other than handing over the evidence.”