Yellowstone Regional Airport has fallen victim to cybertheft.

Heidi Rasmussen, YRA board member, revealed during a board meeting on Oct. 14, that a wire transfer for $7,829.67 was mistakenly sent to a fraudulent requester posing as the job-hiring firm the airport recently hired.

Rasmussen said this encompassed about the first 40% of payment to Florida-based ADK Consulting and Executive Search. She said it was four days before it was discovered the money had been wired to a fraudulent account.

She said the bank was able to recoup $450 of this loss.

“It was pointed out to me that it could have been much worse and I agree with that,” Rasmussen said.

Ray Lee, airport interim director, said the phishing attempt came from a technological breach through ADK, in which the scammer was able to send a request from a real ADK email address.

He said ADK is pursuing the crime with law enforcement agencies in their jurisdiction and have locked down a potential suspect.

In September, YRA decided it would pay ADK around $22,000 to help the airport find a new director.

Rasmussen said the airport will consider cybersecurity insurance moving forward, which she said can cost around $4,400 per year.

YRA is not the first local entity to fall victim to malicious phishing.

In spring 2018, Park County had its email servers shut down for about a week when hackers accessed at least three email accounts and hijacked them to deliver spam messages.

Although the airport has received $5 million for its general operations for the next five years through the CARES Act, the board members say every dollar still counts.

Bucky Hall, YRA board chairman, made the pledge at the Park County commissioners meeting Oct. 20, that the airport intends to never come back to the county or city again for funding. Prior to this current fiscal year, the county and City of Cody budgeted a combined $345,565 in annual funding for the airport.

Rasmussen also said during the meeting, that an application for Passenger Facility Charges was mistakenly not submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration from January and February, totalling a $30,500 loss to the airport.

PFC grants are federally authorized fees levied by local airport operators on airline tickets. In Cody, that fee is $4.39 per passenger.

Rasmussen, who is treasurer of the board, said she takes “partial responsibility for the errors.”

“I will strive to be better in this position,” she said.

Even with these losses, YRA is not in dire straits financially. In April, the airport learned it would be receiving a guaranteed $11.7 million and up to $18.01 million in CARES Act funding.

“Today will be that day I say, ‘Thank goodness for COVID (-19),’” Rasmussen said.

Director search

The board decided it will offer a $92,500-$97,500 salary range for applicants interested in the airport director position. After an individual is hired, they will be placed on a different employee scale than other employees. Any raises they get will come from annual performance reviews, rather than annually scheduled wage increases.

In his last year on the job, former director Bob Hooper was budgeted to make $97,884.80 not including benefits.

With the final range determined, ADK can now start formally interviewing applicants. Company staff said there is already an interested pool.

A committee of YRA board members Heidi Rasmussen, Bucky Hall and Doug Johnston, along with Park County Commissioner Joe Tilden, Cody Mayor Matt Hall, and citizens James Blair and Todd Simmons, will work with ADK on the hiring search and interview candidates.

(21) comments

SL Joens

5.7% of the $7,800+ was recovered, folks, so, why are you griping? The YRA folks know that the Fed's will print more of this free money and send it to them. Honestly, what do you expect? The YRA Board has long been a bastion for idiotic and "don't blame me" maneuvers with taxpayer $$$. You want them to be responsible for this mess? Why? Why should they start now?

GoatHntr

Heidi, we're not mad, just, well....disappointed. But, then again, you're only partially to blame. Since we have your attention here, WHO exactly is going to reimburse the taxpayers for the Seven GRAND?

barbed wire bliss

"In April, the airport learned it would be receiving a guaranteed $11.7 million and up to $18.01 million in CARES Act funding."

And this is why you're thankful for the pandemic?

hatchetjack

I finally have to add my 2 cents. Heidi and a couple of other board members are trying to do a good job for the airport. She is not the one to ok wiring the funds to the wrong place. The airport director is the one that gives the final ok to wire the funds. He is also the one that didn't follow up on making sure the PFC application was not sent in when it was supposed to. The covid comment was only a figure of speech. If it would have been a normal year, the airport would have been out a lot of money . The airport board gets a packet every month, how much do they read in it? It is up to the airport director, engineering firm to make sure everything is turned in when it is supposed to be. But as far as replacing the board members, you have to be one of the good old boys to be there. When you have relatives in different places, this is what happens. As far as the comment from Mr. Hall, about not coming to the City or County for funds. That is not true. When the cares money is used up, they will have no recourse but to come looking for money. The ariport doesn't make enough money to not have funding. You can see how much money they take in for yourself.

Whatsup

As always it's poor poor communication between board members and the carelessness of not caring about the taxpayers money

5.56

This happens quite often. However, a procedure used by many businesses when request like this comes in is to call the party from which the email/invoice was generated if the wiring instructions in the email/invoice do not match those already on file for that vendor. If a new vendor, have them provide a W-9 and then confirm all information with the vendor prior to paying invoice. Oh, and when contacting the vendor, use the telephone number and address they provided to you when both parties started working together, not the information embedded in the email/invoice.

STOL guy

Big congratulations on recovering $450 of the $7k PLUS that is gone, Heidi. Quick question for you: who is going to reimburse the taxpaying public for this $7,000 PLUS?

Freecitizen

I would suggest a Standard Procedure, where any payment over $500 require a two-step payment. First, a small token payment for is made for some random amount Second, it is confirmed recieved by the correct recipient by actually contacting the legitimate recipient, and finally, a full payment following that verification.

This, or a similar arrangement is common in financial circles. There is no need for very expensive insurance.

Hash

They failed to send the Passenger Facility Charges report for 2 months straight? Is anybody awake in the Accounting Department?

CodyWyoming

This article's comments regarding the City of Cody's email server being shut down are inaccurate. The City's email server was never hijacked, compromised, or shut down; only the County's email server was temporarily shut down.

Hrasmussen

Here are some more details:

The Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) requires an application in the December/January time frame to the FAA. The airport director and the engineers complete the application and submit it. An extension maybe requested. If the FAA approves the application a $4.50 fee per passenger is added to the airline tickets and the airport gets $4.39/passenger for specific projects. Unfortunately there were breakdowns in this process earlier this year and the application was never approved by the FAA. I, the treasurer of the YRA board, take partial responsibility for not catching the error sooner. I am quoted as saying “Thank goodness for COVID” because had it been any other year that the application hadn’t been filed it would have cost the airport about $175k (40,000 enplanements x $4.39). While still an unacceptable loss for the current year, since enplanements have been down so much, due to the pandemic, we are loosing far less.

Regarding the wire fraud- Yes calls should be made to vendors to confirm emails and other security steps should be taken. Again as a volunteer treasurer I take responsibility.

Unfortunately mistakes happen. I am not proud of these mistakes but I did bring them to the attention of the board in a public meeting as I thought it was the right thing to do.

If anyone has further questions I would be happy to answer them. I am trying very hard to be 100% transparent with the public.

Wyog49

Thank you for the break down. Have you done the math on what each life that’s been lost by COVID-19 was worth. It’s obvious that $$$ not human lives is where your interest lies. Happy for you that you have a bright side to the suffering and deaths.

Hrasmussen

Here are some more details:

The Passenger Facility Charges (PFC) requires an application in the December/January time frame to the FAA. The airport director and the engineers complete the application and submit it. An extension may be requested. If the FAA approves the application a $4.50 fee per passenger is added to the airline tickets and the airport gets $4.39/passenger for specific projects. Unfortunately there were breakdowns in this process earlier in the year and the application was never approved by the FAA. I, the treasurer of the YRA board, take responsibility for not catching the mistake earlier. I am quoted as saying "Thank goodness for COVID" because had it been any other year that the application hadn't been filed it would have cost the airport about $175k (40,000 enplanements x $4.39). While still an unacceptable loss for the current year, since enplanements have been down so much, due to the pandemic, we are loosing far less.

Regarding the wire fraud- Yes calls should be made to vendors to confirm emails and other security steps should be taken. Again as a volunteer treasurer I take responcibility.

Unfortunately mistakes happen. I am not proud of these mistakes but I did bring them to the attention of the board at a public meeting as I thought it was the right thing to do.

If anyone has further questions I would be happy to answer them. I am trying very hard to be 100% transparent with the public.

Wyog49

“Today will be that day I say, ‘Thank goodness for COVID (-19),’” Really says all we need to know about Rasmussen.

Tail Dragger Pilot

Cody and Park County is so fortunate to have Rasmussen on the board. She saved the City of Cody and Park County "Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars" with convincing the board to set aside $5 Million Dollars to cover "Operations and Maintenance" for the next 4 years. Without her leadership it probably would have been wasted on some project. Just so you know.

Whatsup

That much money $5 million to set aside sounds like you're asking for too many county taxes to me

Wyog49

Say thanks to COVID -19? Wow! Hope you don’t lose anyone to it.

CodyWYOlderMan

Wow. Incredible. And a pledge to never steal local tax monies too? Incredible. Wow.

Siltbath Gulley

Oh, you were able to recover $450? That's nice. Meanwhile, I realize that Cody isn't big enough to have Ringling Bros. come to town but hey, we don't need'em cuz we have the YRA Board who thinks taxpayer money is made to play with. Quite the circus up their on Roger Sedam drive.

myWY

checks and balances???

Whatsup

Sounds pretty stupid to me our airport board needs a lesson and I think that was a good one for him now are you going to beg the taxpayers to pay that back since you only recouped 450 of $7,000 you all should be voted out

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