Local

FBI: Virus suspected in school thefts

CRYSTAL LAKE – As much as $350,000 reported stolen from Crystal Lake District 47 bank accounts earlier this summer could be linked to cyberthefts at other suburban schools.

The FBI’s Chicago office is investigating the cases, at least one of which involves a hard-to-detect computer virus. No arrests have been made or charges filed, said Cynthia Yates, a spokeswoman for the Chicago office of the FBI. She said Crystal Lake School District 47 and Sycamore School District 427 were part of their investigation, but she declined to identify any other organizations involved in the case.

A computer virus called Clampi was used against District 47, FBI officials said. However, Yates could not confirm whether the same virus was used in the attack against Sycamore.

“We are investigating this and other similar incidents that have been reported to us,” Yates said. “Right now, it’s a federal investigation. We are working with counterparts in other FBI offices. It is a coordinated effort throughout the country.”

Thefts from businesses and other school districts around the nation have been blamed on the virus, according to news media reports.

Initially, about $425,000 was reported missing from District 47, but some of the money was recovered and the unauthorized transactions were stopped, Superintendent Donn Mendoza said.

“It was not stolen in one big chunk, but it was a relatively short period of time, so within a few days,” he said.

Since discovering the money was missing in late June, the district has hired an electronic security firm and undergone a comprehensive audit, Mendoza said. Officials already have implemented some of the recommendations in the audit and are in the process of making additional changes.

Mendoza said the district filed an insurance claim to recoup the lost money, but the matter hadn’t been resolved. The insurance company also is investigating, he said.

Sycamore Schools Superintendent Wayne Riesen said the district had been hit by a cyber attack in July but could not confirm the exact date of when the thefts occurred or how much money was taken. Sycamore police officials said the department was alerted by the school district July 16 about the theft, which totals close to $300,000.

• Reporter Sarah Sutschek contributed to this report.

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