Trinity College spent €184,000 investigating cyberfraud loss

The Dublin university has recovered €217,810 in funds that were lost last year

The money taken in a cyberscam has been covered from commercial revenues, primarily tourist fees paid to view the Book of Kells and the Old Library. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The money taken in a cyberscam has been covered from commercial revenues, primarily tourist fees paid to view the Book of Kells and the Old Library. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Trinity College Dublin has spent €184,000 on IT specialists to investigate how the college was defrauded of nearly €800,000 last year, and on legal fees to try recover the funds.

Early last year an unauthorised individual gained access to the email account of an employee working in the fundraising arm of the college, and transferred €790,741 from the Trinity Foundation account.

The university has successfully recovered €217,810, John Coman secretary of the college outlined in a note to the Dáil public accounts committee (PAC).

However, some €184,000 has been spent by the university on efforts to recover funds and investigate the cyberfraud, the note outlined.

More than €60,000 was spent on an inquiry into the fraud, including €37,121 paid to consultancy firm BDO to conduct a specialist forensic IT investigation.

A further €76,500 was paid out in legal fees, including more than €21,500 on costs attempting to recover the money across several jurisdictions.

The cyberscam is being investigated by gardaí, and police in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Tourist fees

The loss of donor funds has been covered from commercial revenues, primarily tourist fees paid to view the Book of Kells and the Old Library on the campus. “Therefore there was no loss to donor funds and no impact to any of the projects supported by philanthropic funding,” Mr Coman informed the PAC.

The combined loss of funds and costs of the subsequent investigation and recovery effort had amounted to €974,781 in July.

The note to the PAC said the police investigation is still ongoing into the outstanding €570,000 stolen in the scam, “with the aim of recovering as much as possible of the loss”. The university is “also pursuing the matter with its insurers, also with a view to recovering the losses”, the briefing stated.

When asked how much of the outstanding lost funds the university estimated it would recover, a spokeswoman told The Irish Times the college was unable to comment as the matter was subject to police investigations.

“However, it would be important to note that any shortfall will be made up from the university’s future commercial revenues,” she said.

Following the cyberscam, the university’s internal audit unit carried out a review of the incident, and a detailed audit of the Trinity Foundation’s operations, which recommended a number of improvements.