City of Portland identifies fraudulent financial transaction, launches cybersecurity investigation

Press Release
Preliminary evidence indicates that an unauthorized entity gained access to a City of Portland email account and spent City funds.
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Press release, May 27, 2022

The City of Portland has discovered a cybersecurity breach that led to a fraudulent financial transaction of approximately $1.4 million in late April, using City funds. This incident was identified after the City flagged another fraudulent financial transaction attempt from the same account on May 17. Preliminary evidence indicates that an unauthorized, outside entity gained access to a City of Portland email account to conduct this illegal activity. 

A cyber incident response team was immediately activated to investigate the matter, evaluate the extent of the breach, and ensure that technology and policies are in place to prevent future cybersecurity threats. 

The City is taking action to hold accountable whoever is responsible for this fraudulent activity. Initial notifications have been made to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service and the Portland Police Bureau. City officials will work closely with law enforcement, in addition to completing the internal investigation and taking any immediate actions identified to strengthen security. 

This incident demonstrates the growing threat of cyberattacks against individuals, businesses and communities worldwide. At the City of Portland, we have invested in technology and established policies to minimize that threat. 

To prioritize security and ensure the integrity of the investigation, the City of Portland will not release additional information at this time. We are committed to sharing as much information about this incident as possible, while protecting sensitive information that could compromise the City’s security. 

Cybersecurity incident update, June 1, 2022

In April, an unauthorized, outside entity gained access to a Portland Housing Bureau email account and fraudulently diverted a payment intended for Central City Concern for costs related to the construction of the Starlight, an affordable housing development formerly known as the Westwind. 

The fraudulent transaction resulted in the theft of $1.4 million in City of Portland General Fund dollars.

Although the project is partially funded by the City’s housing bond, no money from that funding source was used in the fraudulent transaction. The City is working quickly to ensure Central City Concern receives payment. Construction of the Starlight is expected to remain on schedule, with a projected opening this fall in Old Town.

Meanwhile, an investigation is underway to discover and hold accountable whoever is responsible for this fraudulent activity; the City is assessing all available avenues to recoup funds.

More information will be available in the coming week.


Office of Management and Finance Media Contact