Call for action over scam emails that appear to be from colleagues

Experts say it happens daily

WATERLOO, Wis. - It’s the kind of email you can probably find in your inbox right now, and one Anna Maenner’s nonprofit had to deal with recently -- a scam, designed to look as if it came from a legitimate company or even a colleague.

For Maenner, it was the latter.

"My treasurer sent me an email and said, 'I got an email from our president saying that she wanted me to pay an invoice. I'm not quite sure why I got this because she knows you pay all the invoice. Could you check into this for me?’” Maenner recalled.

"It was a scam. Apparently, they went onto our website and got the email of the treasurer and the email of the president."  

This isn’t uncommon, according to Madison College IT expert Mike Masino.

“It takes just a couple minutes to build something up like this,” he said.

"Really all it takes is getting a sample of what an email from that organization looks like, and then finding out some key names that might interest people if you sent an email from them."

The easiest way to catch the scam, according to Masino, is to check the email address. Typically it be a red flag. Even then, Masino said if the scammer is sophisticated enough, it's nearly impossible to tell what's real or not.

"If the body of the text is convincing enough, it's easy for your eye to go past that (email address) and for you to miss it," he said.

Maenner and her nonprofit aren’t taking any more chances.

"Our board is taking this very seriously,” she said. “They're talking about, maybe we don't list our contact information for board members (anymore)."   

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