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Fraudsters steal $50,000 from Queensland university

Fraudsters have stolen tens of thousands of dollars from a Queensland university, prompting a warning from the state’s auditor general Brendan Worrall.

The Queensland Audit Office revealed there had been an increase in external attempts to divert employee and supplier payments to illegitimate bank accounts across the sector.

Universities have been warned about increasing attempts to switch bank account details to gain access to employee and supplier payments.Credit:Reuters

In one case, Griffith University did not adhere to processes to independently verify requests to change existing supplier bank account details, resulting in a “small fraudulent payment” last year, an Audit Office report revealed.

A fraudulent request was made by an external source to change an existing supplier’s bank account details and divert payments to an illegitimate bank account.

Griffith University vice-president of corporate services Peter Bryant said an external supplier was hacked, resulting in a $52,000 loss last financial year.

“Griffith University takes fraud prevention very seriously,” he said.

“Last year, the university commissioned an expert review and adopted all recommendations to strengthen fraud prevention measures.

“New measures include improved staff training, business processes and additional bank account checks.”

The Queensland Audit Office recommended universities verify bank account detail changes for suppliers and employees through an independent source, not the person who requested the change.

In addition, the Audit Office found electronic funds transfer (EFT) files were not appropriately secured at Griffith University and the University of Southern Queensland.

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Henry Sapiecha