Warning: Be Wary of Slick Email Scams

August 21, 2013

“Today’s cons and cheats spend all of their time working out the kinks in their scam and end up with very convincing stories that will make even the most suspicious person fall for their story,” said Attorney General Hood.  “They will keep doing it as long as it is a lucrative business for them.” Attorney General Jim Hood today reminds Mississippians to continue to be wary of slick scams which constantly circulate in new ways.

Email phishing scams have been around as long as email, however, the scams continue to evolve into very convincing cons.  One such scam sends an email reportedly alerting the receiver that their ATM or VISA card is ready for delivery but requires further action before delivery.  That further action may be to send funds to cover processing fees or to provide personal information.  The con is an attempt to either get enough information to steal your identity or to have you send money or even possibly to infect your computer with a virus.

While these type scams are often traced to Nigeria, a recent email version of this scam was traced by investigators of the Attorney General’s Office to Romania.

Another scam that has been seen, most recently in North Mississippi, is what is known as the emergency scam and circulates in a variety of forms, particularly through email and by phone.  In one variation of this scam, the con artists are posing as law enforcement officers, tell you a warrant has been issued for your arrest and threaten arrest by the end of the day if a fine is not paid.  The scammer will even use the name of actual agencies in order to make the con more realistic.

“This is similar to the phishing scam as the scammer gambles that, if they call enough people, someone will eventually fall for the con,” said Attorney General Hood.  “The scammer is banking that the threat of imminent arrest at your home will push you into a panic and you will rush to pay the alleged fine.  By the time you have calmed down enough to think everything through, they have already taken your money.”

Some tips to avoid these scams:

  • Do not respond to any unsolicited e-mails of this nature.
  • Do not click on any attachments associated with such emails, as they may contain viruses or malware.
  • Educate yourself and your family on how the scam works.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who is vague in identifying themselves on the phone.
  • Be suspicious of anyone who calls or emails unexpectedly and wants you to wire money–especially out of the country.
  • Typically, the scammer will tell you to keep the conversation a secret. Know that the right thing to do is to call someone else in the family to verify the situation.
  • Consider creating a “code word” or a “password” for your family to use in emergency situations as verification of identity and do not tell it to anyone outside of the family.
  • If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the link in the message. Legitimate companies don’t ask for this information via email.
  • If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine, or open a new Internet browser session and type in the company’s correct Web address. In any case, don’t cut and paste the link in the message.
  • Don’t email personal or financial information. Email is not a secure method of transmitting personal information.
  • If you initiate a transaction and want to provide your personal or financial information through an organization’s Web site, look for indicators that the site is secure, like a lock icon on the browser’s status bar or a URL for a website that begins “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”).
  • Use anti-virus software and keep your computer security up to date. Some phishing emails contain software that can harm your computer or track your activities on the Internet without your knowledge. Anti-virus software and a firewall can protect you from inadvertently accepting such unwanted files.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
  • Don’t be fooled by caller ID numbers.  Scammers can “spoof” numbers and appear to be calling from inside the United States when in fact they are not.


Anyone who feels they have been victimized by these or any other scams can call the Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-281-4418 or visit www.agjimhood.com to fill out a complaint form.

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