Rob McKenna (3rd from right)
OLYMPIA -- Internet "phishing" scammers operating via Washington state appear to have pulled off the online equivalent of committing crimes with weapons stolen from the police.
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna Wednesday warned members of his e-mail ListServ account that it had recently been hijacked by "phishers." The alleged scam involved using McKenna's account to e-mail subscribers a fake bank logo to obtain on-line account details.
McKenna spokeswoman Kristin Alexander told LegalNewsLine today that the attorney general's office had few legal options against the perpetrators.
"The most we could pursue are civil penalties and injunctive provisions," she noted. "Most phishers operate from foreign countries and are extremely gifted at covering their tracks."
McKenna's office, she added, "does not have the resources needed to conduct international investigations -- we leave those to federal agencies."
Alexander, McKenna's Seattle-based Media Relations Manager, warned subscribers in an e-mail Wednesday that the offending message "appears to come from 'Military Bank Online' but includes the ListServ address in the 'from' line". Those who open it are then directed to a fake "Bank of America" logo, she added.
She told recipients who had opened the message not to follow the link or provide any information asked for in the message, and to delete the e-mail. LegalNewsLine subscribes to McKenna's ListServ but did not receive the e-mail in question.
McKenna has long touted his proactive approach to computer fraud in Washington. He reached a $50,000 settlement last month with California-based Movieland.com for installing software that launched "persistent pop-ups."
He has also launched a string of legal suits and settlements over the past year and a half against spam e-mail senders and Spyware distributors.