PORTLAND – A data breach at the Archdiocese of Seattle that led to rampant tax fraud appears to have spread to Oregon.
The Archdiocese of Portland said hackers have stolen Social Security numbers from Catholic Church employees and volunteers in order to file false tax returns and claim the refund.
So far, 105 Catholic Oregonians have been impacted.
In late March, a data breach was discovered at Seattle’s archdiocese. It has so far impacted 1,000 people across western Washington. The Seattle Archdiocese has said it received reports of tax return fraud from schools, volunteers, employees and parishes spanning from Whatcom to Clark counties.
Nobody knows how the private information was stolen, or if the Seattle and Portland cases were linked.
Portland’s archdiocese has solid security checks in place, according Archdiocese Director of Communications Bud Bunce.
“We would be able to see those kinds of computer breaches,” Bunce said.
He added that the archdiocese keeps personnel files on hand, which would include Social Security numbers. But he said background checks and payroll are handled by an outside agency.
Representatives for the FBI said they’re investigating the connection between all the victims.
The number of IRS tax fraud cases the FBI investigates has risen 600 percent in the last two years.
Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report