Phishing scam demands thousands from Bossier Parish churches
BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office is issuing a warning to area residents after several area churches reported an online phishing scam.
Authorities say the scammers email the church to ask them to send a wire transfer. The email comes complete with instructions detailing who and where to send the money.
Asbury United Methodist Church is just one of the suspect's targets.
"It said email me the wire confirmation as soon as it completes, which is funny it also says don't call me, email me, I'm too busy right now… which kind of sounds like me..."
Rev. Matt Rawle is the church's pastor. He says his financial advisor received the email on Wednesday, May 3rd.
In the email, the swindler goes by the name Ben Anthony.
He tells the financial secretary to please wire about $20,000 to an account in Houston, Texas.
At first, the emails seems to come from the church pastor. It has his name printed at the bottom and the email reads Rev. Matt Rawle with the domain firstname.lastname@example.org.
The scammer is presumed to hope the recipient of the email might not notice the slight difference in the domain and think it's from a trusted sender or someone they know.
"It looks legit, it looks like it could be from a pastor asking for funds to be transferred to Houston. It's not uncommon for us to be traveling and going different locations and need information for a conference or something like that," Rawle said.
And as crafty as the email may seem, Bossier Parish sheriff's deputies say something is obviously off.
"What is happening is there making it look so real, that these people who are on the other end receiving these emails, the ones who are being told can you give me the money.. they're realizing that something just doesn't seem right," Davis said.
Bossier Parish public information officer Bill Davis says so far no churches have given the scammers any money.
"And that's pretty good work on the part of these churches to not fall prey to being a victim."
Detectives believe the scam may use malware and warn residents to pay close attention to the actual email address from where it was sent.
Here are some other tips Bossier sheriffs have for anyone who suspects their church or company may have been scammed:
- Contact your local FBI or U.S. Secret Service office immediately to report a “business email compromise” scheme.
- Contact both your financial institution and the receiving financial institution to request that they halt or unwind the transfer if a wire transfer was actually processed.
- Seek advice from counsel about any legal obligations or protections you may have related to this situation, such as potential insurance coverage for any loss.
- Change your controls to minimize the risk of something similar happening again, and don’t think you need to sweep it under the rug.
- Make sure that employees know about the scam, how it was perpetrated, and that they can be a gateway for the scammer is important in motivating employees to remain vigilant.
- As always, you can report scams or any other types of crimes to the Bossier Sheriff’s Office at (318) 965-2203.
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