Wasilla resident lost his PFD after hackers redirected banking information

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WASILLA, Alaska (KTUU) — Many Alaskans were relieved when Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the permanent fund’s larger-than-usual dividend this year at the Three Bears store in Palmer. With inflation on the rise and gas prices rising again, the annual fall payment helps residents offset costs.

But for one Wasilla resident, that relief turned to disappointment after hackers broke into her MyAlaska account and changed her banking information.

Like many residents, Diane Bryant requested her PFD in early January from the myAlaska web portal, receiving the standard confirmation email that comes after submission. Shortly after, the hackers were able to access his email account.

“Going through my email, they managed to change the password to the myAlaska site,” Bryant said.

From there, the hackers changed the direct deposit banking information. Bryant – through his own investigation – discovered that it had been deposited into an account with Evolve Bank & Trust, an institution headquartered in Tennessee.

“I called a really nice girl there, filed a fraud report,” Bryant recalled. “Her name was Christina, and Christina said ‘Well Diane, I would look at this but I can’t. It went into our bank, but it went into another bank.

According to Evolve Bank & Trust, the funds ended up going to an account held by Wise, a fintech company which offers international money transfers. Shortly after learning this information, an investigation was initiated with the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Alaska State Department of Revenue.

What state investigators told Bryant was disheartening.

“He told me that probably my money went to Nigeria,” Bryant said.

When Bryant asked if the state would reissue his check, the response was that it was not likely.

“The reason is that state law does not allow a second question in any situation,” Bryant said.

“As far as the state, they issued the PFD, they are no longer responsible.”

Genevieve Wojtusik, Director of PFD for the state’s PFD division, released the following statement on Alaska’s News Source:

“The PFD is aware of the situation. Our Criminal Investigation Unit is aware of this incident and is actively investigating. We will provide further information if necessary. The PFD Division takes the security of Alaskans’ dividend funds and personal information very seriously.

Bryant always wants to know how someone got his hands on his money. Department of State Administration External Public Information Officer Ken Truitt responded:

“This is not a situation where there was a breach of the myAlaska system, but a situation where a few individual accounts were compromised.”

Unfortunately for Bryant, it remains unclear whether or not she will receive this year’s PFD check.

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