FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Beware of Email Hacking and Bank Fraud
Contact: Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer 970-729-2028
June 21, 2017 -- (Telluride, CO) – The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office is warning the community about email hacking and bank fraud following two “display name attacks” this week on local government accounts.
In display name attacks the attacker changes the sender’s display name to trick the recipient, or potential victim, that it is an authentic email. It takes advantage of how modern browsers and email programs show the display name instead of the actual email address. Content of the email will typically ask for money to be wired to a bank account.
Sheriff Bill Masters said, “Anyone or any business could be a victim, and people need to be aware of how easy it is for crooks to do their business these days.”
The Sheriff’s Office suggests:
- Anytime you read a request for “wire transfer,” that’s a red-flag, slow down.
- Expand beyond the display name to get the recipients actual email address. If it’s a hack it will show a different email address than the display name’s authentic email address. If this is the case, it’s a hacker. Be sure to delete that email address so that it does not get added to or stay in your contacts allowing the potential to accidentally send an email to the hacker.
- Set up two-step verification on all email accounts. Major email service providers should have this feature. It prevents others from accessing your email from a different computer without you being contacted via text message for approval.
- Never send money to anyone from an email request without speaking to the party either in person or on the phone.
In other documented cases in the county from about a year ago, hackers broke into individual email accounts and learned a fair amount about the potential victim and then used that information in email requests for money.
Sheriff Masters said, “They’ll come up with all kinds of urgent excuses in their emails, but it’s just too risky to send money without voice verification.”
It is recommended that people follow these practices in their personal and business transactions.
In the first case, a Telluride resident lost money when the contractor for his new house had his email hacked. The hackers read in the contractor’s emails that he would be away on a river trip with no phone service. During the trip, the hackers set the home owner an email about change orders for the house and asked for a draw to be sent to a new bank. The email, pretending to be the contractor, indicated that he would be on the river, asked about his children and other personal notes, and the money was sent. The Sheriff’s Office traced the funds as far as Hong Kong where it went cold without assistance from the Chinese.
In another case, also about a year ago, a Telluride resident had his email hacked after hackers read his online boarding pass learning when he would be flying. During that time, the hackers sent a request to his broker to send money to a bank for a real estate deal, that he needed the money immediately, but was flying and could not be reached by phone. The email commented on family and friends and appeared authentic. Money was sent to a bank and then immediately transferred to Africa never to be recovered. ###
The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, located in Telluride, Colorado and established in 1883, serves 7,800 residents and countless visitors across the 1,288 square miles of San Miguel County. Sheriff Bill Masters has been serving as the county’s elected Sheriff since 1980.