3 Workers at Florida Baptist in Shock Following Missing $700,000 for New Church Planting | The Christian Mail
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Workers at Florida Baptist in Shock Following Missing $700,000 for New Church Planting

Workers at the Florida Baptist Convention were left shocked and dismayed when they discovered that the mission money they had sent to support church planting had mysteriously vanished. 

An update posted on the convention’s website on Monday, May 15, revealed that over $700,000 in funds had been stolen through cyber-targeting. The convention has since taken swift action, working closely with federal and state investigators, as well as internal and external auditors, to recover the stolen funds.

“The Florida Baptist Convention continues to work with federal and state investigators, our internal and external auditors to recover over $700,000 in funds stolen from the convention through cyber-targeting,”  revealed the convention’s official website.

The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the Florida Baptist Convention and its affiliated churches. The convention serves as a vital platform for supporting and coordinating various mission activities across the state, and the stolen funds were intended to facilitate church planting efforts. The loss of such a substantial amount of money has undoubtedly dealt a significant blow to these initiatives and the communities they aim to serve.

Following an initial announcement of fraud on Wednesday, officials from the Florida Baptist Convention have now disclosed the extent of the financial loss they incurred. The incident, which had not been previously revealed, came to light after inquiries were made by Religion News Service. The convention’s website was subsequently updated to include the specific amount of over $700,000 that was stolen.

As one of more than 40 state conventions associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Florida Baptists play a crucial role in their partnership with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The stolen funds were originally intended to support church planting efforts through this collaboration.

“These types of attacks continue to plague organizations of all sizes and scopes,” the convention said in a statement. “We encourage pastors and churches to remain diligent with the security of their IT and financial systems. This specifically includes critically scrutinizing any and all requests — even those from a supposedly well-known source — that request a shift from historical payment practices.”

A spokesman for NAMB, Mike Ebert, said that agency adheres to “robust cyber and data security protocols, follows best-in-class accounting principles and internal controls” to protect donations from Southern Baptists.”

“We have and will continue to support our ministry partners as they seek to do the same,” he added.

Cyber-targeting has become an increasingly prevalent threat in the digital age, affecting organizations and individuals alike. The convention’s staff members, who had diligently worked to raise and allocate funds for church planting, were unaware that their efforts would fall victim to such a malicious act. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of robust cybersecurity measures and the need for constant vigilance in safeguarding sensitive financial information.

In response to the theft, the Florida Baptist Convention has taken immediate steps to address the situation and minimize any further harm. Collaborating with both federal and state investigators demonstrates their commitment to uncovering the truth and bringing the responsible parties to justice. Additionally, the convention has engaged internal and external auditors to thoroughly examine their financial systems and identify any vulnerabilities that may have been exploited.

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