SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) A Utah government division has received a first of its kind phishing email and officials are warning private businesses to beware.
The bogus email was supposedly from Mark Steinagel, Director of The Division of Occupational Licensing, to a department employee named Melissa McGill.
“I need you mail a check payment to a vendor for me. I will provide you with the vendor’s information you need in making the payment. I will appreciate swift response.”
DOPL business analyst Tanja Salazar reads every email coming to the department. Her first thought? “The grammar is bad. That isn’t typical Mark.”
Then she saw that the email addresses were wrong. Director Steinagel agreed. “First, the grammar. Second the emails are incorrect and third, I would never send an email to somebody from my team asking them to cut a check.”
But for their department this is a first. “We get a lot of spam, but this is the first phishing email that I found,”says Salazar.
When ABC4 Utah was there Monday she even got an email supposedly from convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff.
Steinagel looks at and signs every check request, so it’s doubtful something like this email could ever result in a payment to the person perpetrating this scam. But he wants to get the word out as a warning.
“It got me thinking about friends I have in the private sector,” says Steinagel. “They don’t have quite as many levels of checking and balances like government entities do. But a single business owner of a small business may think something is legit and would send a response to a team member to cut a check.”
He wants the public to “be very careful because every day people around the world are finding new techniques to defraud us.”
And what a massive job it is just for state government. The Department of Technology Services reports that over the past 45 days they received 7.8 million emails and 967,000 of them are spam emails.