Hackers reportedly stole $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party just weeks before the election using a scheme involving manipulated invoices, the Associated Press reports. The group noted the theft on October 22nd; Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt says that the FBI is currently investigating the case.
According to Hitt, hackers used faked invoices from several vendors the campaign was working with for things like election mailings and Trump merchandise. Instead of featuring the vendor’s payment information, the documents relayed the money to the hackers.
This kind of hack is actually a fairly common scam: Facebook and Google were hit by a similar phishing scheme in 2017 to the tune of $100 million. Scammers regularly use fake invoices to target businesses, organizations, and other groups, hoping to sneak in bogus receipts alongside the legitimate ones. Given how frantic managing an election campaign in the final weeks before the election can be, it’s easy to imagine how the scammed invoices might have slipped by.
The AP report doesn’t note how long the hackers were siphoning money off of the account, but the sum is a sizable one, given that Wisconsin Republican spokesman Alec Zimmerman notes that the party’s federal account currently contains $1.1 million (at time of press — that amount will likely change given the fast pace of the election).
Wisconsin is viewed as an essential state for both the Trump and Biden campaigns in the upcoming election.