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Police: Computer hackers stole from business in Franklin

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A computer hacker stole $58,000 from a Franklin business by paying the money out to fake employees, according to police.

The hacker targeted Metal Pro Roofing, a company that makes metal roofs and installs them throughout the Midwest. Someone got into the business’s computer server, created several fake employee bank accounts and withdrew $58,000 over a period of five days, according to a police report.

Franklin police turned the investigation over to the FBI since the hacker is not believed to be anyone from this area, chief investigator Pete Ketchum said.

The company has been working with its bank and insurance company in an effort to recover the stolen money, Ketchum said.

Metal Pro Roofing did not return messages.

Owner Richard C. Cornett called police last week to report that a hacker had gotten into the company’s bank account. The hacker set up phony debit accounts in New York, Illinois and other states and made several transfers of thousands of dollars, police said.

No one recognized a problem at first, but the company noticed after five days that major withdrawals of up to $23,822 had been made, according to a police report.

The company’s bank asked Metal Pro Roofing to file a police report, and the company gave investigators a detailed list of withdrawals, amounts, names, routing numbers and account numbers.

However, local police can’t do much to investigate the theft because the crime took place somewhere out of the Franklin Police Department’s jurisdiction, Ketchum said.

They forwarded the case to the FBI, which investigates, tracks and maintains a database of Internet crime.

“There’s rarely a local origin,” Ketchum said. “All these scams, like those crazy Nigerian email scams, can come from anywhere. Generally speaking, everyone should take precautions with their business and home computers.”

Ketchum said that people should change their passwords regularly, be careful about what emails they open and regularly check their bank accounts to check any unauthorized transactions.

Small businesses also should have two different computers, using one exclusively for online banking, to be less susceptible to phishing scams or other hacking attempts.

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