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Malware attack holding home buying in Baltimore hostage

Posted at 5:13 PM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-15 08:17:10-04

BALTIMORE — The message out of City Hall hasn’t changed today: the FBI is helping with the malware attack, and the new mayor's office is confident they will get the city back online; Baltimore, Mayor Jack Young said, will not be held hostage.

RELATED: City continues to fight ransomware attack

“We are not going to pay any ransom,” Young said Tuesday, “I am not going to reward criminals for criminal activities, at all.”

In the meantime, it is back to paper and pencil or finding a clean computer like at the Pratt Library downtown.

The library is on its own secure system and is now opening early to allow city agency heads to go online safely and access payroll.

“At 7:30 in the morning we are opening our doors to other city agencies and they can come throughout the morning to fill out their e-time and payroll to make sure their employees are getting paid,” said Pratt Library Director or Communications Meghan McCorkell.

But while city employees might be getting paid, financial institutions are not.

“Oh it is cataclysmic,” said owner of Definitive Title Bret Devich.

Devich says this ransomware attack has put a full stop on one of the busiest months of the year for buying a home.

At this point he says, companies like his can't record any home purchases or sales, there is simply no ability to close on a property and 90 percent of title companies in the city are on pause leaving hundreds of home buyers in both the city and the county in indefinite limbo.

“My heart is beating out of my chest,” Devich said, “As a small family business, 16 years in Baltimore city, I don't know what the next 10 minutes will be, let alone the next three weeks.”

The ransomware is even holding back business too, like at the new Cross Street Market.

The manager of the new marketplace confirms to WMAR 2-News today that several of its vendors cannot complete the permitting process for the construction of their stalls or final inspections of their restaurants inside the newly renovated building.

The city may refuse to play the role of hostage but from home sales, to water bills, payroll and even businesses, it appears much of the business of Baltimore is on hold.