Check All Bank-Related E-Mail For Potential Fraud

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When an e-mail scammer goes "phishing," the sought-after trophy probably would not be displayed on the typical angler's wall.

Phishing is defined by anti-phishing.org as, "A person or a group of cyber-criminals who create an imitation or copy of an existing legitimate Web page to trick users into providing sensitive personal information."

Even here in Payson, e-mail fraud is a very real danger. Not even this semi-isolated community can be protected from Internet scams.

In many cases, as in an e-mail sent to the Roundup, it is an attempt to scare someone that they will not have access to funds in their bank account.

The Roundup was recently the target of such a scam. A fraudulent e-mail, claiming to be from Wells Fargo Bank was received on July 30.

The e-mail read, "Dear Wells Fargo online account holder, In the last few weeks, our online banking security team has observed multiple logons on your account, from different blacklisted IP's. We are issuing this security warning, your online banking access has therefore been blocked, to prevent further unauthorized access for your safety."

"We have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity and your account security. We hereby ask you to click on the reference below to activate you account. NOTE: We will also be upgrading our year SSL Server to enhance our security."

Included in the e-mail was a warning that failure to click the link on the e-mail and "verify information" could lead to account disconnection.

After reading the e-mail, it is easy to see how this might cause fear in some that their account has indeed been compromised.

At close inspection however, numerous mistakes in grammar, spelling and composition can be seen in the e-mail, making it fairly obvious it might be a scam.

The worst thing to do is panic and click on the link provided in the e-mail, it could end up costing thousands.

Chief Deputy County Attorney for Gila County, Bryan Chambers said, "Delete it, that's what people should do if they get an e-mail that looks suspicious."

"It is not even worth taking a chance, get rid of it immediately."

Warren Conley, phone banker with Wells Fargo Bank said, "Well, like you said, first look at the e-mail, if it looks suspicious, it probably is."

"If someone gets an e-mail that looks suspicious, they should call us immediately, don't click anything before contacting the bank."

Conley said Wells Fargo never asks a customer to verify information or provide any kind of personal banking information in e-mail correspondence.

Conley said banking e-mail scams are common on the Internet and people should be suspicious anytime they receive any e-mail asking them for personal banking information like account numbers or account verification.

If a person is the victim of an e-mail bank related fraud, all may not be lost. Some banks offer a system to try and recover some, or all, of the stolen money.

Wells Fargo will file a claim and initiate a recovery process that gives the customer a "good" chance of getting back any money they may have lost to a scam, Conley said.

Both Conley and Chambers said catching an e-mail fraud criminal once they have obtained a person's money is extremely difficult.

Chambers also suggested that if someone becomes a victim of an e-mail scam, they should report it to the law.

He said, "I know it is humiliating, it happened to me once, but if a person finds themselves a victim of fraud of any kind, they should contact local law enforcement and at least make a report of it."

Anyone who thinks they have been the victim of fraud, or have received a suspicious e-mail should contact the Attorney General's Office at (800) 352-8431.

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