Consumer Alerts

    Scammers Pose as Superintendents


    September 28, 2016

    The school year is off to a fast start, but unfortunately some school personnel and others are reportedly receiving disturbing emails in their inboxes. The Attorney General’s office has received inquiries from teachers across the State that scammers are spoofing a superintendent’s email address and requesting the staff member wire money to an out-of-state bank.

    These scam artists can be persuasive in convincing these employees to wire the money. They know staff are less likely to question directions from the superintendent, and coupled with a sense of urgency, scammers manipulate teachers or staff members into following their instructions.

    This is a low-tech scam that can be run from anywhere in the world. All the scam artist needs is the superintendent’s name and email address, which can usually be found through websites or a social media account.

    Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued today’s consumer alert to Arkansas educators about this ploy to steal money from school districts, as well as employees.

    “Our teachers focus on giving our children the best education possible,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “But criminals do not care who they hurt. It is important for all school employees to verify any unusual request, especially those requesting cash be wired.”

    Attorney General Rutledge released the following tips to help school employees protect themselves from falling victim to this scam:

    • Double check the email address to confirm it matches the name displayed in the email “from” line.
    • Implement a verification system where staff can properly contact and check with the superintendent or senior staff members.
    • Verify the legitimacy of the request by calling the person using the contact information you have stored rather than the one given during the call or within the email.
    • Be vigilant about any urgent or confidential request not following the standard working procedure.
    • Trust your intuition. If there is any doubt, it is better to take the time to verify.

    This scam has also been reported across the country with scammers even requesting employee personnel records, including Social Security numbers instead of cash.

    The scam is often successful because there is nothing for traditional email security systems to block because it appears to be legitimate correspondence that is being sent directly to its target. Therefore, companies must educate employees and implement a verification system to avoid falling victim to this type of fraud.

    For more information about identity theft and other consumer-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982 or consumer@ArkansasAG.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov or facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge.

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