Hackers steal $680,000 from church fund for homeless

·Senior National Affairs Reporter

Stealing money raised by a church to help homeless and abused women is pretty low. But that's just what a group of hackers did, according to CBS News.

"You kind of have to take a deep breath and you have to trust in the Lord," Richard Pates, the bishop of St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines, Iowa told CBS News, after losing $680,000 in the heist.

The swindle was one example of a increasingly popular cyber-crime technique, known as account takeover fraud. Hackers, often located in eastern Europe, target small town institutions or civic groups that may lack sophisticated defenses. They send the target groups an email that looks to be from a friend or the IRS, which prompts the recipients to click on a link. That click then allows a malicious software bug to infect their computer, and steal sensitive data such as bank passwords. Money can then be simply be transferred to the criminal's own account.

Other victims of the scheme include the town of Pittsford, N.Y. which recently lost $139,000, and a small-town library in Florida which was hit for $160,000 last year.

"You're seeing a lot of this type of crime get reported now," Ron Plesco, head of the National Cyber Forensics & Training Alliance in Pittsburgh, told CBS. "No doubt in my mind this is organized crime," he added.

The FBI says it opens one or two new cases of account takeover fraud a week.

St. Ambrose's losses eventually were covered by insurance and its bank. But that's not always the case: Pittsford was only able to get back $5,000.

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