Suspect hacks Northwest University, steals $60,000

The scammer had been watching email communications prior to theft.

Northwest University in Kirkland is out $60,000 after a recent online scam.

According to President Joseph Castleberry, a scammer broke into the college’s email security and redirected emails to him/herself after changing payment instructions on an invoice and sending them to the Northwest University accounts payable department.

“Northwest University, like so many other businesses these days, fell victim to a cyber-crime, a phenomenon that is growing on a monthly basis,” Castleberry said in a school-wide email. “We are taking steps to safeguard the university and maximize our cybersecurity.”

Cpl. Cody Mann with Kirkland police said the report of the scam came in early late February/early March. The suspect(s) were watching email communications and had “intimate knowledge” of payables and receivables at the school, he said. Posing as the school’s Chief Financial Officer John Jordan, the suspect then “authorized” a female employee to send approximately $64,000 to a routing number.

“She thought she was doing the right thing,” Mann said. “She didn’t know through the routing number where [the money] was going.”

That routing number was to another woman’s bank account the suspect, posing as Jordan, had established a fake online dating relationship with. The suspect told the out-of-state woman he/she was “dating” that he/she needed to leave the country for business, and asked her for a favor to transfer money into his account.

That woman has been cooperating with police. Mann said they are treating her as more of a victim than a suspect because she didn’t understand a scam was happening at the time.

Neither Jordan nor the school knew a scammer was using his email or that it was fake until months ago when they realized their Jordan wasn’t sending specific emails.

“Based off the investigation, it would have been very reasonable to believe it was a legitimate email,” Mann said of the fake email account. “It had his email, it was his email when it showed up on the screen.”

Earlier news reports said Jordan’s email account was hacked and that all victims were contacted through a dating app when asked to transfer the money.

But that wasn’t true, Castleberry asserted.

“I want to communicate to you, that while we did suffer an email hack and indeed lose $60,000 to cyber-crime, it was not John’s email that was hacked, nor was he using dating apps,” Castleberry wrote.

Mann said it’s important for people to realize how prevalent a scam such as this is and that no one should ever wire funds to someone they’ve never met in person.

Police are still actively investigating the case and are working with multiple agencies.

More in News

Sarah Yount, former YES client, speaks at YES’s 50th anniversary celebration on Nov. 2. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Youth Eastside Services celebrates 50 years

YES celebrates 50 years of providing youth and family behavioral health services.

Nude suspect blocks traffic, fights officers | Police blotter

The Kirkland police blotter for Oct. 25 through Nov. 1.

Sky Metalwala has been missing for seven years. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Police plead for help in search for missing boy

Sky has been missing since Nov. 6, 2011 and turned 9 years old on Sept. 2.

Protesters chant “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” at the intersection of Northeast 124th Street and 124th Avenue Northeast Thursday evening. Kailan Manandic, staff photo
Kirkland locals rally in national protest to protect Mueller

Protesters across the nation respond to former Attorney General Jeff Session’s resignation.

From L-R: Panelist Roderic Camp from Claremont University, William Beezley from University of Arizona, Linda, and Guillermo Sheridan from UNAM-Seattle touched on the subject of U.S.-Mexico relations on Nov. 1 at Northwest University. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo.
Northwest University hosts public academic conference

NU partners with National Autonomous University of Mexico to discuss U.S.-Mexico relations

Kuderer leads Tom; Walen over Bright

Legislative District 48 race. Results are preliminary.

One of the things Kirkland’s Proposition 1 will pay for is police services. Courtesy photo
Voters decide on city’s Prop. 1 measure

The sales tax increase for police services and community safety was passing as of election night.

Democrats lead in 1st Legislative District

Derek Stanford and Shelley Kloba were successful in their re-election bids.

Most Read