They keep coming back
Maybe we should think of scammers the way we think of anglers.
If you try fishing in a lake and catch no fish, you try another lake.
If you do catch fish, you’re much more likely to return to that lake.
Scammers apparently are having some success prying precious personal information from the public because they keep coming back.
We have issued warnings about the Nigerian scam, the grandparents’ scam, and the I Love You computer virus, and urged residents to ignore unknown e-mail attachments, and to refuse to give personal information to unknown individuals.
Someone out there must still be giving their information to these culprits, and opening the attachments because the perpetrators never stop trying.
The latest scam reports come from unlikely sources, the Michigan Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Public Service Corp.
In the case of the State Court Administrative Office, the administrative agency of the Michigan Supreme Court, officials report that the recipient receives e-mail notice to appear in court, claiming that the recipient is accused of “illegal software use” or other offenses.
The notice instructs the recipient to download an attached “complaint” or click on a website link.
Instead, the e-mail is a scam, likely aimed at planting a virus or other malware on victims’ computers.
“Anyone receiving one of these e-mails should not open the attachment or click on the link,” warns State Court Administrator John A. Hohman Jr. “This is not how Michigan courts handle summonses or notices to appear.”
The scam has been reported in a number of other states, including Georgia and Louisiana, Hohman said.
“At this time, we’re not hearing reports of the scam in Michigan, but the public should be alert,” Hohman said. In some versions of the scam, the sender’s e-mail appears to come from well-known law firms, with the e-mail impersonating the law firm’s domain name, he said.
Those who receive these court e-mail scams are encouraged to notify their local police or sheriff’s office, as well as the court mentioned in the e-mail.
In the case of the Wisconsin Public Service Corp., the utility’s call center is receiving calls from customers who are being contacted by scammers on a daily basis.
The swindlers have been representing Wisconsin Public Service Corp.’s collection department and advising people that power would be disconnected within 45 minutes to an hour if payment was not provided via a credit card, a prepaid card or green dot card which could be purchased from a Walgreens, CVS or any other businesses that sell gift cards.
In the dead of winter, this can be a frightening call.
Scammers have also asked customers to meet them at different locations to collect payment.
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. personnel would never ask anyone to meet them to pay a utility bill.
In the last few weeks, company officials also have seen numerous customer calls advising Wisconsin Public Service about an e-mail from PGE.com and the subject line states “to review recent statement.”
PG& E is a utility company based out of San Francisco and has posted a warning to customers on their own web site and provided information to possible victims.
Wisconsin Public Service urges individuals: do not respond to the request, do not click on any links in the email, do not open any attachments and do not provide any personal information.
“We realize numerous scams go on everyday yet we want to warn our customers to not become a victim or these scams,” said Lisa Prunty, Manager of Public Relations for WPS. “If customers have questions about an e-mail, phone or text pertaining to their WPS account. Do not open the e-mail or text.”
The phone number that customers should call to report issue is 1-800-450-7260.
Be careful. Don’t become a scam victim.