200,000 Bright Futures accounts could be compromised, police say

Updated:

Loading
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

As many as 200,000 Florida Bright Futures scholars could be at risk of identity theft.

Several employee bank accounts have also been raided after someone hacked into Northwest Florida State College's system and used it to get into the scholarship program's database. The hackers have also used the information to establish false lines of credit.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office is working to gather information on people whose identities were stolen. The Secret Service is leading the criminal investigation.

WFTV learned the school isn't going to help monitor the credit of those affected.

UCF graduate Paul Durant was sure he was being scammed when the letter came in the mail.

"I thought it was somebody trying to phish for my information," Durant said, because it was from a school he had never applied to -- Northwest Florida State College

The letter said Durant's personal information had been stolen during a security breach where hackers accessed the data of former students from colleges and universities across the state.

Durant soon learned it was no fake.

Many of the victims had never even heard of the college where the breach took place until they received the letter.

At University of Central Florida the personal information of more than 20,000 former students could be in the hands of criminals.

Officials said hackers used the small college as a portal to access names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other personal information for every single person eligible for a Bright Futures scholarship from 2005 to 2007.

Will Henderson is an IT director at a local business technology firm.

"It's probably the easiest form of bank robbery you can find. I mean you don't have a security guard there with a gun," Henderson said.

The letters were just sent out, and while there have not yet been reports of fraud with information stolen from the Bright Futures files, the stolen employee data is troubling.

"How worried should somebody be? Very," Henderson said.