Legal Newsline

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Montana AG says 'spear phishing' email scams on the rise

By Mark Iandolo | Apr 13, 2016


HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) - Montana Attorney General Tim Fox says scammers across the country, including those in Montana, have used a sophisticated “spear phishing” email scam to gain access to the personal information of thousands of consumers.

Spear phishing, a more precise form of phishing, involves posing as a legitimate source a consumer would normally do business with in order to access personal information. The scammers use email subject lines and content specific to the target recipient’s business responsibilities or interests.

“This ‘spear phishing’ scam is especially despicable because it takes advantage of the trust that colleagues build between each other,” Fox said. “These scammers often research their intended target by exploring the target recipient’s LinkedIn and other social media accounts to build a convincing email, so it can be easy to fall victim to those emails. Educating Montana businesses about the existence of these scams is the best defense we have.”

The Montana Office of Consumer Protection has received many specific complaints about a spear phishing scam that involves impersonating a company executive and requesting a staff member to give employee W-2 information. The scammer then steals the information to commit identity theft.

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Montana Attorney General's Office