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Internet scheme fleeces Red Wing church

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Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

A Red Wing church is out $94,000 after Internet thieves apparently hacked church computers.

The Church of St. Joseph, 426 West Eight St., reported to Red Wing police on March 20 that a large sum of money was taken from the church's bank account without consent.

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"What's more shocking than the amount is that we've been attacked by an Internet crime," said church priest Thomas Kommers.

In a letter written to church members, Kommers said on March 19 the thieves used a sophisticated Internet virus to gain confidential information that was used to execute electronic money transfers. The money was then divvied up into smaller amounts and sent to other banks in the U.S.

It's unclear how the virus entered church computers, according to the letter. The infected computers have been replaced.

The letter states the church doubts that any personal information of individual church members held in the computers was abused. St.

Joseph's is, however, encouraging its members to keep a close eye on their own credit card and bank statements.

The amount stolen represents roughly one-seventh of St. Joseph's annual budget, but Kommers said the church will be able to keep afloat.

St. Joseph's is insured through its connection with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

"They've ensured that any loss will be covered," Kommers said.

The church's letter also states, "... our bank has informed us that they are reasonably confident that some $40,000 has been recovered from the banks to which our stolen funds were sent."

Paul Kramp, president of Alliance Bank in Red Wing, said the bank is still working to recover the stolen money.

"There's a possibility that some if it could be returned," he said.

Police say the case is still under investigation.

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