PHILADELPHIA — The Board of Pensions is investigating the fraudulent redirection of 11 pension payments. The board reissued the December payments to the pensioners, and acted immediately to ensure that no other benefits plan members or pensioners were, or would be, affected. The fraud did not affect any other plans or funds.
The board also identified that the online accounts of 46 additional pensioners had been altered to redirect future payments. The board reversed these, thwarting the attempt at a second theft. Credit and identity protection service is being offered to the 57 pensioners who were affected.
“We identified it, contained it, and prevented further damage,” Board President Frank C. Spencer said. “The final loss was minimal, and we have insurance as well.” The board is working with its insurance carrier, a top forensic consulting firm and law enforcement to determine the source of the fraud and to help ensure system security, he said.
“We’re fending off attempts at computer-facilitated fraud daily, as is every large organization in the United States today,” Spencer said. The board monitors the safety of its systems constantly and frequently upgrades systems security. The fraud investigation is in the early stages, but there is no indication that board systems were hacked.
“This was the transfer of the pension payment through direct deposit, and the assets of the board were never in danger,” Spencer said. The number of pension payments made by the board in 2017 will total about 250,000, he said. Last month was the first time any have been fraudulently redirected.
The fraud follows a pattern of targeting older retirees who do not have online profiles.
“The targeting of elderly people in this way is happening a lot. It’s cruel,” Spencer said. “We need to be alert to this sort of fraud. And we need to help protect our loved ones and friends who are vulnerable to it. Remind them to check their accounts regularly, especially for automatic deposits and withdrawals.”
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