Wisconsin Republican Party's fund lost a whopping $2.3 million to hackers, who stole the money using a simple trick of manipulated invoices. This puts a sizeable dent in the state party's spending budget for the 2020 election as the money was meant to help reelect Trump.
The FBI has been looped into the current situation after the Wisconsin Republic Party noticed suspicious activity on October 22. The party's chairman Andrew Hitt said there were no reports of similar attacks from any other state GOP, but an alert has been sent out to all state parties to be vigilant of cyberattacks.
How hackers stole the money?
Hitt also revealed how the hackers were able to skim off $2.3 million without being caught. According to him, invoices from four vendors who were being paid for direct mail for Trump's reelection efforts and for pro-Trump material like hats were manipulated to redirect funds to hackers.
The invoices and other related documents were altered in such a way that when the party paid for the services, the money went to the hackers and not to the actual vendors, AP reported. The hack was exposed only after someone discovered an invoice that shouldn't have been generated.
This is a common type of scam carried out by hackers to make some quick cash. Major giants such as Facebook and Google have fallen for a similar scam, losing as much as $100 million in 2017, The Verge reported. Sneaking in fake invoices among legitimate ones right before the election can be an easy trick for hackers to pull off than on any other day.
Wisconsin - a crucial battleground
Wisconsin is an important state for both parties. Recent polls have shown that it is going to be a close call between who wins the maximum votes - whether it is Trump or his rival Joe Biden. If funding raised in the state is any indication, Biden could very well be in the lead. The Wisconsin Democratic Party raised $59 million over the last two years as opposed to $24 million raised by the Republican Party.
Wisconsin Republican spokesman Alec Zimmerman revealed that the party's federal account currently contains $1.1 million, the Verge reported. Regardless, the RNC is still confident of winning in the state.
"We have been in contact with the state party and are assisting them through this process. The RNC never left Wisconsin after 2016, and we are confident that our ground game and the millions we are spending on TV and digital will deliver us another win there in 2020," Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens told AP.