Staff at the Florida Baptist Convention thought they were sending missions money to help pay for church planting. Then the money disappeared.
“The Florida Baptist Convention continues to work with federal and state investigators, our internal and external auditors to recover over $700,000 in funds stolen from the convention through cyber-targeting,” according to a May 15 update.
Florida Baptist officials first announced they’d been a victim of fraud May 10.
The funds were meant to go to the North American Mission Board, which partners with Florida Baptists in church planting.
The funds were sent to the wrong location after a staff member received an email claiming to be from NAMB and requested funds be sent to a new account number.
“An investigation is being launched to determine how [a general knowledge of the communications and practice between the SBC entity and the convention] was gained,” the convention said in a statement. “At this time, we have no reason to suspect malfeasance by any convention employees.”
Convention leaders said they will honor their financial commitments by drawing from reserves.
They also said they would add to their cybersecurity, which according to leaders already included “training, regular information systems upgrades and advanced detection software.”
Mike Ebert, a NAMB spokesman, said NAMB adheres to “robust cyber and data security protocols, follows best-in-class accounting principles and internal controls” to protect financial gifts.
“We have and will continue to support our ministry partners as they seek to do the same,” Ebert told Religion News Service.
Florida Baptists hope some of the losses will be recovered.
“We remain prayerful that some of this loss may be mitigated through insurance and/or the recovery of stolen funds,” the convention stated.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was edited for style, length and brevity and first published by Religion News Service.