Ozark Technical Community College. (Photo by Dean Curtis)

The administrators of Ozarks Technical Community College announced that it was the victim in a “cyber fraud incident” that cost the college nearly $900,000. 

OTC announced the financial discovery on April 15, and its administrators say the fraud happened sometime in the spring of 2022.  The college notified law enforcement groups as soon as the money turned up missing. 

According to a statement from OTC, the loss of the funds will not affect students, classes or any college operations. OTC administrators claim that the college never lost control of its data, and no personal information was lost. 

 OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said the college is reviewing the matter and cooperating with police officers.

“We can’t provide all of the specifics at this time,” Dr. Higdon said, “but it appears the criminals succeeded in impersonating one of our vendors online and directed payments from the college into a fraudulent account.”  

Higdon said that law enforcement agencies have requested that OTC not disclose any more details, including which agencies are involved.  

“We will provide a more complete accounting of the incident as soon as we are able,” Higdon said. “Although the blame for this incident rests squarely on the criminals who committed this act, I want to assure you that we are doing everything in our power to ensure something like this cannot happen again.”

OTC staff members are working with law enforcement agents in an effort to recover the stolen money.

“It is our hope that these criminals are swiftly brought to justice and that we are able to recover these funds. In the meantime, I want to express my profound thanks to everyone for the strong support we have received,” Higdon said.  

OTC operates six community college campuses in southwest Missouri, including the flagship campus in Springfield. The school offers associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, technical certifications and accredited certificates. In 2019, OTC reported an enrollment of 11,762 students.

OTC’s research department reports that about 58 percent of the college system’s overall revenue comes from tuition, which equates to about $52.5 million. For the 2021-2022 fiscal year, OTC’s budget office projects slightly more than $91 million in expenses to match $91 million in revenue.

By June 30, 2022, OTC expects to take in $14 million in state government funding, $11.7 million in property tax, $2.3 million in federal grants, $1.7 million in state grants, and an additional $8.69 million from other sources.

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger