BRUNSWICK — Police are investigating an attempted illegal transfer of about $125,000 from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority’s checking and payroll accounts, according to Steve Levesque, the authority’s executive director.

Last month, the redevelopment authority’s email systems were hacked by a third party who then approached Bath Savings Institution for a “false shift of funds,” Levesque said. However, the bank’s safeguards require Levesque’s verification, as well as a follow-up phone call for confirmation, he said. “That’s why we have these checks and balances.”

“I hope we can catch the scoundrel,” Levesque added. The authority turned over details to the police, who he believes are working with the FBI.

Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority oversees the revitalization of Brunswick Landing, the former Naval base and what is now Brunswick Executive Airport.

The redevelopment authority has changed its passwords, set up a new checking account, and the finance committee recently discussed using encrypted communications with the bank to initiate transfers, according to board materials for the authority’s upcoming meeting Jan. 30.

The FBI reported that its Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 300,000 complaints in 2017 year with reported losses of more than $1.4 billion. That included nearly $61 million lost due to corporate data breaches and more than $676 million in email account compromises, including business emails.

Maine ranks 45 out of 57 U.S. states and territories as to the number of internet crimes in 2017, with 740 victims reported. California had the most victims, with nearly 42,000.

This is the first time the redevelopment authority has been targeted by a hacker, Levesque said.

“It’s the sign of the damn times,” he said. “I’m just glad the safeguards worked.”

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