Chagrin Falls man loses $50,000 after online bank account hacked

FBI says cyber crime will be nation's top threat

CHARGRIN FALLS, Ohio - A Chagrin Falls man lost $50,000 after computer hackers tapped into his online bank account.

Eric Smith, owner of C4 Polymers which recycles plastics into reusable pellets, said computer hackers got into his online account at Huntington Bank on Christmas Eve.

"Somehow they had gotten my login and user ID and all that information," said company controller Jennifer Bayko.

Smith said the FBI got involved and tracked a series of wire transfers to computer hackers in Russia. The FBI even has a top 10 list of suspected hackers involved in other cases that operate from inside Russia and Eastern Europe.

The account was hacked into a total of three times--eventually withdrawing $50,000 in wire transfers.

A company employee noticed the wire transfers before leaving work and tried to notify the bank. But despite repeated calls, Smith said no one picked up a phone at the bank for a day and half.

Finally, when the bank re-opened for business following the Christmas holiday, Smith said a Huntington vice-president initially promised to help. Even so, the bank ultimately declined to compensate him for the missing funds.

"We would expect that a bank of that size would have some sort of system in place to protect us," Smith said.

Huntington declined to comment saying only "it remains proud of its efforts in connection with security for its online system."

Meanwhile, FBI Director Robert Mueller recently testified before a congressional committee investigating cyber crime and predicted it would soon "be the nation's number one threat."

Other recent examples include computer hackers who attacked Citi Bank and got away with data on 21 million credit card users, as well as attacks on federal agencies that  jumped from 5,000 to 42,000 in just six years.

Even the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland was hacked into two years ago, but officials say it was limited to 10 computers in a test system and no information was obtained.

Dean Boland is a Cleveland attorney who has been involved in other cyber-related attacks and said there are two important things consumers should watch for.

"Every time you go online be sure the web site includes the letters ‘https' in the web address bar," Boland said. "The letter ‘S' indicates it is a secure site."

Boland also suggests asking your bank whether data on mobile apps, like your cell phone or iPad, is encrypted and can't be picked up by hackers.

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