Payday scam reported at Fulton County Schools 

District is second area school system to be targeted by cyber thieves


A second local school district reported that dozens of its employees had their electronic paychecks rerouted in another online phishing scheme. 

Fulton County Schools encountered the cyber theft problems for its Aug. 31 payday, when paychecks for 46 employees failed to show up in staffers’ bank accounts. 

A third attack that targeted Clayton Public Schools last week was unsuccessful.

More than $75,000 was rerouted onto money cards set up by the unknown scammers; the district recovered about $3,400 of that amount by reversing the transactions. 

The district issued new paper paychecks to the employees, according to spokeswoman Susan Hale. 

Fulton County has insurance coverage to guard against such losses, but the deductible it would have to pay to make a claim is more than the amount of missing money, she said. 

The incident is the second reported payday attack on local public school employees and mirrors online crimes that have taken place across the country

On Friday, 27 Atlanta Public School employees fell victim to an apparent phishing attack when cyber thieves allegedly snagged $56,459 in payroll funds by redirecting the money from their accounts. 

APS reimbursed the employees and reported the incident to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. 

Similar instances of payday mayhem have occurred in Cleveland and Denver school districts. 

Fulton County reported its payroll problems to the U.S. Secret Service’s Cyber Crimes Unit because it appears that the activity crosses multiple jurisdictions, Hale said. 

She said it appears that affected employees received “phishing emails” -- fake emails that try to trick the recipient into giving out personal information. 

The employees then provided login credentials that allowed the scammers to change their information and redirect their paychecks. 

“There is no evidence to suggest that the school district’s database was compromised or that anyone else was affected other than the individuals targeted through the phishing scheme,” Hale said, in a written statement. 

Fulton County and APS are both paying for a year’s worth of online identity theft protection services for the targeted employees. 

Atlanta officials cautioned employees to be skeptical when they receive unsolicited emails. 

The district advised employees to verify that the email is real and to avoid replying to it or clicking on any links or attachments.

Cyberthieves tried but failed to reroute direct deposits for 28 Clayton County school district employees, officials said. The district learned of the unsuccessful attack Friday and officials said there was no indication that any money actually was redirected.

Clayton officials reported the incident to state investigators.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Wakanda for a day? Area students view ‘Black Panther’ in style
Wakanda for a day? Area students view ‘Black Panther’ in style

Jay Bailey saw the Black Panther character on screen two years ago while watching “Captain America: Civil War” on a flight from California to Atlanta. The moment immediately transformed him from 40-year-old man to 12-year-old fan, he said. He wanted to give that same experience to kids once the Black Panther movie hit theaters. “I...
Will more guns and armed teachers protect students?
Will more guns and armed teachers protect students?
A friend overheard her second grader instructing playmates huddling under a climbing structure at their local playground, “You’re in lockdown. If you come out, the bad man will shoot you.” This is morning in America where parents pray their child’s school doesn’t become the next scene of a mass shooting by an angry young...
Opinion: No money for priority schools yet lawmakers find $17 million for charters
Opinion: No money for priority schools yet lawmakers find $17 million for charters
Janet Kishbaugh is co-chair of the Georgia Coalition for Public Education, formerly the Committee to Keep Georgia Schools Local. In this commentary, Kishbaugh questions the lack of adequate funding for Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature initiative, state turnaround schools. While the state says it can’t come up with more funding for turnaround...
Atlanta schools and city bringing deed fight to close
Atlanta schools and city bringing deed fight to close

The Atlanta City Council agreed Monday to transfer deeds to 31 properties to Atlanta Public Schools, bringing partial closure to a long-running dispute over who controls school sites. For several years, the school district and city have been locked in a battle over deeds to school properties the city held onto after APS legally split from the city...
Atlanta City Council approves transfer of 31 properties to APS
Atlanta City Council approves transfer of 31 properties to APS

The Atlanta City Council agreed Monday to transfer deeds to 31 properties to Atlanta Public Schools.  The action helps fulfill a campaign promise made by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to turn over to APS deeds to school properties held by the city, a leftover from before the city and school district became separate legal entities in the 1970s...
More Stories