Water utility auditor resigns, transfers $9m offshore
In that order
California and federal officials are searching for a former employee of a large water utility who is suspected of trying to transfer more than $9m to an offshore account after quitting the company.
Abdirahman Ismail Abdi made the brazen transfers on April 27, just hours after resigning from the California Water Services Company, according to documents filed in federal court in Northern California. The following morning, he allegedly put his wife and two small children on a plane bound for Frankfurt, Germany, and then tried to deposit a $25,000 check that was stolen from his former employer.
The account is the latest reminder of the security threat posed by insiders. Over the past year, organizations from the London branch of Sumitomo Mitsui Bank to Countrywide Home Financial have fallen victim to large attempted heists that were in part carried out by employees. Many more businesses have been hobbled by sabotage allegedly carried out by disgruntled employees.
In Abdi's case, it would appear his former employer failed to take basic precautions in preventing the transfers.
On the evening of April 27, for instance, Abdi was able to use his electronic key card to access a secured parking lot just hours after resigning as an auditor at the utility, according to court documents. Abdi, who is now 33, then accessed two password-protected computers located in separate buildings to wire more than $9m out of his former employer's Bank of America account into accounts in Qatar.
The California Water Services Company, which bills itself as the largest investor-owned American water utility west of the Mississippi River and the third largest in the country, has yet to explain how a former employer could gain access to some of its most sensitive buildings. It also is unclear how Abdi had knowledge of two separate passwords.
It would appear that Abdi's plan may not have succeeded. Two of the three of the wire transfers were blocked and funds from the third are believed to have been frozen, according to court documents. Police believe Abdi fled California for New Westminster British Columbia. ®
How exactly did he resign?
If he left a sealed letter on his manager's desk, after said manager had left for the day, then it is hardly a big surprise that his access had not yet been revoked. If 'resigned' is the usual euphemism for marched out of the building kicking and screaming, then a little bit more blame can reasonably be assigned to the employer, but seriously, what was to stop him doing all of this, and then resigning five minutes later? Not really much different is it?
Nor does it have much to do with IT - in the old days, if he had that much responsibility, he would have walked down to the bank and asked for the cash, and as a long standing customer would have been given it without question.
Daddy why is your hand missing?
I stole from my employer and they sent sharia thugs to get revenge.
This needs to happen to spyware and malware makers.
Plenty of treasure here - no digging required
For anyone who wants to compare and contrast (do we remember how to do that?) this with the Madoff case.