Government

Spoof Government Employee Email Accounts Being Used to Scam Kentuckians

Bill Stephens, Web Editor

May 17th, 2017

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Local, state and federal government employee email addresses under siege by con artists
FRANKFORT, KY. (May 16, 2017) – Today, Attorney General Andy Beshear issued a Scam Alert to warn Kentuckians of an email scam that relies on spoof government employee email addresses to defraud Kentuckians.

Five recent reports to Beshear’s office indicate the spoof email appears to come from a current Kentucky state government employee and solicits money in order to receive a sweepstakes prize the consumer has supposedly won.

Beshear said the content of the message might also include an official request for personal or financial information or seek payment for an outstanding debt.

“By using advanced technology to spoof actual employee email accounts, scammers are adding a new twist on impersonation scams that have traditionally been carried out over the phone,” said Beshear. “A Scam Alert was issued today to help ensure Kentuckians are aware that they should be cautious of emails that appear to be from an official government employee and legitimate email account.”

In addition to the current reports, similar instances indicate con artists are also taking on the persona of employees of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service and a variety of local law enforcement agencies.

Beshear and his Office of Senior Protection recommend the following tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help avoid the scam:

Do not trust, and verify. Call the government agency or employee directly to verify the email address and information. Know that government agencies will never call or email asking for immediate payment in order to receive a prize or grant.
Do not provide financial or personal information. Never provide or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, unless you are confident that you are speaking to the correct person and organization for a legitimate purpose.
Do not pay to win a prize. If you did not enter a sweepstakes or lottery, then you could not have won. Never pay to receive a prize or have a prize mailed. Remember, it is illegal for a sweepstakes promoter to request upfront fees, and all foreign lotteries and sweepstakes are illegal.
Be cautious of an email request to reset a password. Scammers often use what appear to be legitimate emails to trick a user in to resetting an email account password. Once the scammer has the new account password, they can access the information in the account and use the account to scam others.
One of the critical missions of the Office of the Attorney General is to help Kentucky families, seniors and businesses recognize and avoid scams.

Beshear said that government employees are often the subject of scammers and over the past year Beshear’s office has warned of several employee impersonation scams, including: IRS scams, jury duty scam, local sheriff’s deputy scam, federal warrant scam and a business email compromise scam.

Over the past year, more than 200 reports of impersonation scams were submitted to the Office of the Attorney General. Ten of those reports account for Kentuckians losing nearly $50,000.

Beshear said the best way to stay ahead of con artists is to be aware of new and trending scams by signing up to receive Scam Alerts from the Office of the Attorney General.

Scam Alerts provide Kentuckians a direct alert, including tips on how to avoid scams reported in Kentucky. To enroll, text the words KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or enroll online at ag.ky.gov/scams and select text message or email alert.

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