Computer Crime Research Center


Phishing sends money to Russia

Date: May 22, 2005
Source: gm today

A recent rash of Waukesha area residents scammed by Internet "phishing" artists funneling money to Russia has police concerned what the money is being stolen to fund.

Three area women suffered a combined $15,000-plus in financial losses between April 27 and May 5 after receiving e-mail messages from Associated Bank asking them to verify their personal information, which included bank account numbers. The fraudulent e-mails, part of a popular scam known as "phishing," were not from the bank and instead from a scam artist who used the women�s bank account information to make withdrawals and send the money to a location in St. Petersburg, Russia, said Capt. Mike Babe of the Waukesha Police Department.

"Where is that money going and to support what is obviously the concern here," Babe said.

Police continue investigating the cases and are not certain who exactly is receiving the stolen money. Nonetheless, Lt. William H. Graham Jr. looks at the amount of money taken - one woman lost $7,503.79 - and considers it a grave concern.

"My concern is this money is going to terrorists," Graham said.

Another possibility could be the Russian Mafia, Babe said. Either way, it is easy to stop these thieves from gaining access to one�s bank account, he said.

"The other thing with these �phishing� scams is you get the e-mail and if you read them over closely, you�ll typically find very poor grammar and spelling mistakes," Babe said.

The messages usually include the official-looking graphic or logo of the bank or credit card company. Even if the e-mail looks business-like and seems legitimate, people should ask themselves obvious questions, Babe said.

"They get messages on the Internet from the credit cards, their banks, and they�re asking you for you personal stuff, �Why do you need to know my bank account number?�" Babe said. "You�re the bank."

Babe cautioned anyone receiving an e-mail asking for bank account numbers to contact their bank or credit card company immediately and ask a representative about the message. It seems like an obvious solution, but police continue to deal with the problem.

"People are still getting hit," Babe said.
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