Board approves hiring investigator after 2 Parking Authority hacking attempts

Pat Loeb
August 20, 2019 - 2:03 pm

KYW Newsradio, file

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Parking rates will be going up at Center City lots owned by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Increases were approved at Tuesday's board meeting. 

The board also approved hiring a private investigator to look into two hacking attempts.

Late last year and early this year, there were numerous attempts to get cars out of the Parking Authority's impoundment lot with fake credit card numbers.  

Attorney Dennis Weldon says it turned out the Authority was just part of a larger scheme, and the FBI has now taken over the investigation.

"There was a surge in attempts to do that," Weldon said. "They detected it pretty quickly and were able to change the system, so it didn't happen any more. So then we just reported it to investigators."

In the meantime, he says, a new threat arose when a payroll employee was directed to divert a check by an email that seemed to be from a Parking Authority official.

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"It's fortunate," Weldon said. "We had had the secret service in here about six months before that to do training on exactly this type of thing, and we were specifically trained to actually pick up the phone and call the person and make sure they requested it. And through that, it was prevented."

The private firm it hired, HML Group, is looking into the scheme. Weldon says that investigation is still going on.

The board also approved a $9.5 million loan from TD Bank for new parking kiosks. And the board voted to raise rates at seven lots near Thomas Jefferson University, the Fashion District (formerly the Gallery), Family Court and Independence Mall by about a dollar per hour to raise nearly $300,000. Officials said the new revenue would offset millions of dollars in needed repairs to parking facilities.