Police: Hermitage officials avoid $23,000 email scam - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Police caution governments and businesses

Police: Hermitage officials avoid $23,000 email scam

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HERMITAGE, Pa. -

Police are warning local governments and businesses about a scam that took aim at the City of Hermitage.

Hermitage Police Chief Eric Jewell reports that someone recently tried to trick a city finance official into wiring $23,000 to them, claiming the city owed the money to a supplier in Illinois.

Jewell believes the attempted scam originated outside the United States and the person in the Illinois location is likely an unwitting participant, who would then wire the money overseas.

Jewell says the scam works like this:

On-line thieves hijack senior management and/or elected officials’ email addresses and impersonate them by sending emails to their respective finance departments directing the wiring of funds to complete purported past due invoices.

The emails appear to bear a legitimate email address but a subtle secondary address also appears.

The fraudsters use language like "cut-off time, overdue account, due now, due yesterday," etc. in the bogus emails to create a false sense of urgency.

Finance personnel would communicate back with the impersonator, who they think is a manager, and are fraudulently directed to immediately disperse funds to an account/location provided by the con-artist.

The fraudster, impersonating the manager or official, may say in the email they are in a meeting right now to avert a confirmation phone call that might foil the scam.

The scam could easily be adapted to target non-government businesses, according to Jewell, who says governments and businesses should verify any suspicious emails by face to face or phone conversation before making any payments.

Common red flags for fraud include an emphasis on urgency, the wiring of funds and unusual invoice handling or payment practices.               

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