BRUNSWICK, Ohio — The FBI is investigating after email hackers stole nearly $2 million from Saint Ambrose Parish, 929 Pearl Road, in Brunswick during the Easter holiday.
In a letter to the parish on April 27, Father Bob Steck said while his Vision 2020 Team was working with Marous Brothers Construction during church renovations, he received news that email hackers had stolen $1.75 million from the parish.
Steck said Marous Brothers inquired as to why Saint Ambrose had not paid its monthly payment for the past two months totaling, $1.75 million.
“This was shocking news to us, as we have been very prompt on our payments every month and have received all the appropriate confirmations from the bank that the wire transfers of money to Marous were executed/confirmed,” Steck said in the letter.
The church contacted Brunswick police, the bank and Marous Brothers, and the Diocese immediately got the FBI involved.
An investigation by the FBI revealed Saint Ambrose’s email system was hacked and the hackers were able to deceive the parish into believing that the Marous Brothers had changed their bank and wiring instructions.
The payments were sent to a fraudulent bank account and the money was then depleted from those accounts before anyone knew what happened.
The investigation also revealed the breach was limited to two email accounts. The parish changed all the passwords and brought in technology consultants to verify the integrity of all the databases and other information.
In the letter, Steck said:
The FBI investigation will continue. We are working closely with the Diocese and its insurance program to file a claim in the hopes that Marous Brothers Construction can receive their payment quickly and we can bring this important project for our parish to a positive completion. Needless to say, I have been sick about the situation and am working as hard as possible to address every aspect of this problem. I am sure you may also have further questions and thus the back side of this letter addresses additional points. As things develop, I will continue to update you. Please know how very sorry I am that this has occurred in our parish community. If I/we had any idea, any clue, any information that the money was not being sent to the right account, we would have addressed it immediately. I pray that this will not diminish the joy of our renewed Church, or your support for our parish community. Throughout the Triduum and Easter, I have been praying mightily that the Light will shine through the darkness of this situation and that God will give us the grace and strength to walk forward in faith and hope.