ERCA Investigation Clears Staff of Involvement in $292K Fraud

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The Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) has cleared staff of involvement in a fraud that cost the organization $292,000.

Essex County OPP continues to investigate the social engineering scheme announced on Sept. 4 that saw someone gain access to ERCA's network, impersonate a staff member and forge documents.

Board Chair Kieran McKenzie provided an update to ERCA's internal investigation at Thursday night's board of directors meeting.

He says the third party audit found the thieves didn't have help on the inside.

"The board immediately announced a robust internal investigation that included a forensic audit of its IT systems," he says. "These investigations have concluded without question that this crime was perpetrated by individuals outside of the organization."

McKenzie says ERCA is already working on assuring the security breach never happens again.

"There were certain vulnerabilities that have been identified through this process that are now going to allow us to fix some problems that maybe should have been identified previously," he added.

General Manager Richard Wyma stepped down earlier this month and it's still unclear if his decision was in direct response to the financial loss.

Director of Watershed Management Tim Byrne is serving as interim GM while a committee is formed to search for Wyma's replacement.