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Analysis

Swindler Dupes Georgia Health System Finance Director Into $1.2M Wire Payment

By Steven Porter  
   January 08, 2019

Police are investigating after the executive reportedly sent organization funds to someone posing as a representative of a construction company doing work for the health system.

While healthcare executives have been fretting for years over the emerging threats posed by increasingly sophisticated computer hackers, a simpler security risk has persisted: classic social engineering.

That's reportedly how a swindler posing as the chief financial officer of a construction company working for Hamilton Health Care System in Dalton, Georgia, persuaded the system's finance director to wire $1.2 million into the fraudster's account.

Steven Bridenstine, director of finance and treasury services, sent two payments about two weeks apart after hospital management received an email in late November claiming the construction company wished to be paid via electronic fund transfers, rather than checks, as the Times Free Press reported, citing an incident report by Dalton police.

Bridenstine called the construction company a week after sending the second payment. That's when a company representative told him the company had neither received his payment nor requested the electronic transfers.

Bridenstine, who reported the incident to Dalton police on December 28, declined the local paper's request for comment.

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Hamilton Health Care System President and CEO Jeff Myers told WRCBtv's Anna Huffstutler that the matter is the subject of an active investigation.

"This is a matter we take with the utmost seriousness," Myers said. "Hamilton is aggressively pursuing all available legal recourse and is fully cooperating with the FBI and local law enforcement. As this is a current open federal investigation, we are unable to comment any further at this time."

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.


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