Empowering Parish and Town Councils in Northamptonshire

Email Scam Doing The Rounds

Email Scam Doing The Rounds

Several councils have reported that they have received scam emails and, unfortunately, one council has written to say that one of their councillors has lost £400 as a result.

The scam works by grabbing your attention with a quick message that says "Are you free?". If you respond there's another message that says something like "I'm busy at the moment and need you're help, would that be OK?". The scammer is attempting to build up trust without revealing the scam at this stage. If you respond again, this time the scammer sends something like "I need you to purchase some iTunes vouchers for me. Please get them and then take photos of the backs of the vouchers and send me the photos". If you do that the scammers have the information they need to spend the money on the vouchers. You will probably also get another email asking you to buy more vouchers (it worked the first time, they might as well keep trying!).

The best bet is to not respond to any messages like this. The good news though is that even if you respond to the first "Are you free?" message your security has not been compromised at that point. The scammers are using publicly available email addresses "scraped" automatically from web sites. They have not got access to your email account or the email account of the person you thought the messages were from. So just delete the messages and make a point to be on guard for similar things arriving.

It is incredible that anyone would actually go out and buy vouchers having received an email of this nature, but data shows that the over 70s are more likely to be duped, and in the current extraordinary circumstances perhaps people are more willing to believe extraordinary things. It's even possible that your council has had a recent conversation about what to do to recognise the brilliant volunteers in the community, so the unsuspecting think it's perhaps something to do with that. I'm trying to rationalise how anyone would be tricked in this way. The reality is that 99.9% of people won't be, but the scammers work on the basis of sending out 1,000 emails out and then that 0.1% (1 person) will be tricked.

The emails have been coming from variants of "ezecutivecommittee@gmail.com", so look out for that specifically, but also be generally careful. If it looks unusual, always check first. In any case, councillors and clerks should NEVER be spending their own money on behalf of another councillor.

Posted: Wed, 03 Jun 2020 11:15 by Danny Moody

Tags: Miscellaneous