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Scammer posed as council leader to try to con councillors over iTunes gift cards

PUBLISHED: 12:24 13 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:44 13 May 2020

A con artist posed as Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor in an email scam designed to con councillors. Pic: Neil Perry

A con artist posed as Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor in an email scam designed to con councillors. Pic: Neil Perry

Archant

A scammer posed as the leader of Norfolk County Council to try to trick fellow county councillors into parting with their banking details.

All 83 county councillors were sent an email purporting to be from County Hall’s Conservative leader Andrew Proctor, but which was actually from a gmail account created under the name councilchairman19.

That email asked if councillors were available. Those who replied to it then received another email.

In the second email, the person posing as Mr Proctor claimed they were in a conference meeting, working until late and needed help in buying “a few iTunes gift cards” for which they would be reimbursed.

The assumption is that, had anyone been foolish enough to do so, the scammer would have tried to get the bank account details of councillors to pay the money back.

A county council spokesman said: “We are aware that some of our councillors received a phishing email claiming to be from Andrew Proctor.

“The email address was blocked by our IMT department as soon as we became aware of it.

“Our councillors have been trained to spot this kind of email, which our systems also highlighted as coming from an external source.”

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Bosses at the council’s trading standards department said it demonstrated just the sort of tactics scammers use - and urged people not to fall for similar cons.

They said: “Scammers will often use ‘email spoofing’ to modify scam emails they send so the emails identifying fields, such as the from, return-path and reply-to addresses are modified to appear to be from someone other than the actual sender.

“Sometimes they will use details of well-known organisations or companies but will also use individual’s details.

“Spoofing addresses give the scammer an increased chance that the recipient will open it believing it to have come from the genuine person, organisation or company.”

To stay safe, people should:

• Pay attention to the name and email address: if it’s different to the usual one the sender uses disregard it

• Look at the spelling, grammar and tone: This can often give away that the email is not from genuine sender

• Be very wary of requests for action: Never click on links or open attachments in unexpected emails. Also never agree to make purchases or to send/transfer money if approached in this way

• Is it trying to rush you? Stop and Take 5: Scammers will attempt to make the issue sound extremely urgent hoping that the recipient will respond before checking it out. A genuine sender won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think

• Contact the sender by another method: If the email looks like it comes from someone you know, give them a call or send them a text to check out the claims in the email. If it comes from an organisation or company, contact them through their customer service number or genuine app - never use the details given in the email, they could also be fake.


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