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FBI investigating 'computer incident' at Martin County Tax Collector's Office

Unclear if personal information compromised, tax collector says
Posted at 6:23 PM, Nov 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-02 18:23:44-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The FBI is investigating a "computer incident" that closed the Martin County Tax Collector's Office for several days, frustrating residents, Contact 5 has learned.

The tax collector broke her silence with Contact 5 on Tuesday to say there is good news and bad news at an office that provides the community with numerous services, such as renewing car tags.

The good news is that some systems are up and running. WPTV observed some people who were able to pay their property taxes.

The bad news is that there is little information as to the damage inflicted by what could be a malware attack.

Ruth Pietruszewski
Martin County Tax Collector Ruth Pietruszewski speaks about the ongoing computer problems at her office.

Tax Collector Ruth Pietruszewski said the trouble started on Oct. 16 when she could no longer log into her system. She took immediate action, shutting down the computer system and notifying proper authorities.

The office was closed down, and the FBI is now investigating, she said.

"We don't have any facts," Pietruszewski said when asked to define the computer issue.

Pietruszewski said she doesn't know exactly what caused the malfunction.

WPTV asked her if the problem was due to ransomware — where a hacker demands a ransom to release a computer system.

"That would be under investigation, so I can't comment on that," Pietruszewski said.

She said it's unclear if anyone's personal information has been compromised or jeopardized.

"We don't know because that's in the investigation. That's in the forensics," Pietruszewski said.

At this point, the tax collector's office said her office is limping along and that they have rebuilt the computer servers.

However, critical services remain offline including its Department of Motor Vehicles.

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