Investigations into GAA hacking case ongoing

Investigations into GAA hacking case ongoing
Donegal are still holding out hope of recovering the money which was hacked from the county’s bank account in last summer’s internet scam.

Donegal are still holding out hope of recovering the money which was hacked from the county’s bank account in last summer’s internet scam.

This was revealed by Donegal GAA chairman Sean Dunnion at last Monday night’s monthly meeting of the Donegal County Committee.

The chairman, in response to a query from Seamus O’Domhnaill from Cloughaneely, said the case was under investigation by both the gardaí and the financial services ombudsman.

The Cloughaneely delegate asked if there was any update on the case and if there was any prospect of recovering the money lost in the scam.

“I have to be very careful what I say on this matter. It is a highly sensitive issue and we have been advised by our legal people not to comment on the matter,” said the chairman.

“The garda investigation is ongoing and I can also confirm that the matter is also being investigated by the financial services ombudsman,” added the chairman who went on to state that the Donegal board had reported the matter to the ombudsman and it was this that had instigated the investigation.

But other than that, due to the sensitivities of the case and the ongoing investigations, the chairman insisted he was not in a position to throw any more light on the matter.

It was also revealed at the meeting by County Secretary Aodh Martin O’Fearraigh that Donegal was not the only county hit by such a scam. He said a number of internet hacking incidents had also been reported by other counties in recent time.

And this, he pointed out, was one of the main reasons why the GAA switched its internet account from Google to Microsoft as Google could not guarantee the security the GAA had sought.

The secretary also informed county committee that the GAA was carrying out its own internal investigation into a number of hacking incidents including the Donegal incident.

Details of the elaborate internet scam first emerged when the story broke in the Democrat last November.

The scam had happened months earlier and had been kept under wraps by county board officials. It involved the hacking into the Donegal GAA treasurer’s email address. An instruction was issued by the hacker to a member of the board’s staff to transfer Stg£15,000 to a bank account in the U.K. It was confirmed later by county officials that when converted to euros, the money came to in the region of €18,000. The incident happened at the beginning of August and was reported to the gardaí almost within hours of it happening.

For operational reasons at the time and on a number of occasions since, the gardaí have refused to give any details of the investigation.

However, it was reported at the time that the money was transferred to a bank in Reading in Berkshire in the UK.

And it was also reported that the money was still in the Donegal GAA’s bank account when the matter was first reported and the bank in question was alerted of the incident.

However, for legal reasons, it is believed the bank was powerless to stop the transaction before the money was withdrawn and the account cleaned.

This is believed to be the main bone of contention with Donegal GAA officials who feel the bank should have stopped the transaction.

It was also confirmed at the time that the GAA insurance does not cover such incidents.

A spokesperson for the Financial Services Ombudsman would not confirm that they were carrying out an investigation into the case.

“We don’t comment on individual cases,” was the spokesperson’s response when contacted by the Democrat yesterday.

However, the Democrat has learned that the Ombudsman would not normally get involved in an investigation while a garda investigation or an investigation by any other body was still ongoing.