19 Oct 2011

FBI probes American Samoa hacking incident

6:55 am on 19 October 2011

The FBI has confiscated two computers from the American Samoa Treasurer's Office which were believed to be used by an alleged hacker to move 1.2 million US dollars from a government account with the Bank of Hawaii.

Law enforcement authorities have confirmed that the action was carried out last month and traced to a hacker using a computer in Vietnam.

KHJ News in Pago Pago has been told that two Treasury staff members were contacted by a man by phone and asked for certain information which may have inadvertently helped the transaction.

It says while the funds were released from the American Samoan account, the transaction was stopped in Vietnam.

One senior government official said the incident illustrates how insecure and vulnerable the government's financial management system is.

He says he is bewildered that confidential information could be provided over the phone without any verification of the person seeking the information.