- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for Cyberscammer Steals $93k from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
Mike Wessler, Communications Director
Boston — In 2017, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) unwittingly wired $93,679 in public funds to an account controlled by a cyberscammer, an audit released today by State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump shows. Additionally, management at MassCEC waited more than seven months to notify the agency’s full board of directors of the theft and never filed a formal criminal complaint of the matter.
While MassCEC did recover $25,261 of the stolen funds, the audit notes that if the agency notified law enforcement and its board in a more timely fashion it may have been possible to recover additional funds and pursue prosecution. In the audit, Bump calls on the agency to improve its process for dealing with cyberthreats to prevent future thefts, which MassCEC indicated it has done in response to the audit.
“The threats of cybercriminals are real and growing. It is imperative that both public and private sector entities take steps to reduce their risk of becoming a victim of these bad actors,” Bump said of the audit. “While the funds that were stolen will likely never be recovered, I commend MassCEC for bolstering their defenses against this type of crime and hope that this incident spurs other entities to assess the adequacy of the policies, procedures and other protections they have in place to prevent these types of cyberattacks.”
The audit also notes that MassCEC is improving its plans to ensure its computer systems are able to recover in the event of a disaster.
Finally, the audit notes that MassCEC has a record of investing in financially viable companies, that it properly administers the Equity Investment and Venture Debt Investment programs, and that the Wind Technology Testing Center generates sufficient revenue to cover its operating costs.
MassCEC, an independent governmental entity within, but not under the supervision of, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, began operations in 2009 and is governed by a 12-member board of directors. Its mission is to grow the state’s clean energy economy while helping to meet the Commonwealth’s clean energy, climate and economic development goals. MassCEC uses the proceeds of the Renewable Energy Trust Fund (RETF) to fund its operations. The RETF is funded by a renewable energy surcharge paid by ratepayers. In 2017, this surcharge totaled $22,649,352. MassCEC had 60 employees during the audit period (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2017).