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Baltimore City initiates "workaround" ransomware plan to jumpstart real estate deals

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young

Mayor Jack Young said a manual workaround process will go into effect  from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Abel Wolman Municipal Building, located at 200 North Holliday Street.

The ransomware attack has crippled the city’s ability for buyers to obtain lien certificates showing there are no debts against the properties they want to buy. Any seller or transferor of a property will be required to sign a form promising to pay any outstanding debts once the city’s computer systems are back online.  Title companies have refused to approve real estate transaction without lien certificates.   “The bottom line is that if you’re trying to buy a home in Baltimore or purchase a commercial property, you can show up on Monday and get your Lien Certificate”, said Young. “It’s going to take a few extra steps, but we should be up and running right away.”

Over ten days ago, hackers infiltrated Baltimore City’s computer systems, demanding $76,000 in ransom to release control back to the government. Ransom due date was Friday, and hackers have said every day that payment isn’t made, the ransom would increase. Mayor Young has been steadfast that he would not pay any ransom amount. The FBI has been working with the city to recover its system. City email, the city payment system—such as for payment for water bills and a few other services are still down and have to be paid in person. City officials say 911 and 311 call center and city phone systems are operational.