Date: October 19, 2004 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Michal Shanley, (863) 534-6631 OR (863) 981-2375 Pager

PCSO Warns Citizens of E-mail Bank Scam

Polk County Sheriff's Office Colonel Grady Judd is warning residents to be alert to an internet scam in which an e-mail is sent to customers soliciting personal banking information.

The e-mail appears to be sent from a legitimate banking institution, such as SunTrust Bank or Citibank. The e-mail bears the bank's logo and the subject line states the e-mail is about an important account notice from the bank. The fraudulent e-mail informs the client that there have been a large number of identity thefts targeting bank clients, and requests that the recipient confirm their banking details (credit card information, passwords, etc.) by clicking on the link provided in the e-mail and entering the requested information. Colonel Judd, who has received one of these scam e-mails himself, warns citizens not to supply any information in response to an e-mail of this type.

The link transfers victims to a fake website that appears almost identical to the legitimate bank's website. When victims enter their personal banking information via the fake website, they are supplying the scammers with the necessary information to access their actual banking accounts.

Banking institutions are aware of this scam and are working to address the problem. Unfortunately, as soon as one fraudulent website is shut down, another replaces it. Colonel Judd reminds citizens that valid banking institutions do not send e-mails of this nature requesting information and/or asking for information verification, and citizens are asked to contact their bank immediately if they do receive an e-mail of this type.

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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