Trinity has spent €184,000 investigating the loss of €974,781 to email fraud last year. The fee was paid to IT specialists investigating the fraud and on legal fees trying to recover the funds.
College successfully recovered 22% of lost funds, amounting to €217,810, according to Secretary to the College John Coman in a note to the Dáil public accounts committee (PAC).
Investigation costs included more than €60,000 spent on an inquiry into the fraud and €76,500 paid in legal fees.
The loss came due to an email scam directed at the Trinity Foundation last year, which targeted thousands of Trinity Foundation donors. The donors were led to give money to individual bank accounts which claimed to be acting on behalf of the foundation. Police in the UK flagged the issue to Bank of Ireland following several suspicious transactions.
College initially alerted donors to the fraud by email, which informed recipients that an email account belonging to a Trinity Foundation employee appeared to be compromised by a “phishing/malware attack”. The email detailed that attackers gained access to the account on 7 February 2017.
Coman outlined that despite the fraudulent activity, there was “no loss to donor funds and no impact to any of the projects supported by philanthropic funding” as lost funds were covered by commercial revenue, particularly income from tourists visiting the Book of Kells.
Control of payment processes has since been transferred to Trinity’s financial services division, which recently won Finance Team of the Year at the British Accountancy Awards.
Gardaí and police in the UK and Germany are currently investigating the fraud.