How I Hunted A Phishing Scammer And Saved Others From Getting Scammed

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The frightening thing about phishing emails is that they look almost identical to ordinary emails.

At first glance, they appear to have come from a reputable source and include realistic-looking bank or credit card company logos, headers, and footers. In fact, they’re from slick scammers trying to bait you into sending them money or downloading a virus-filled script. 

Take the case of Kelsie Moak. In 2017 she received an email from “James Moak,” who happens to be Gulf South Technology Solutions’ founder and CEO, in addition to being her father. From the very first email exchange, Kelsie, being a tech-savvy business development manager, was immediately aware she was being targeted by a phishing scammer. With her background, Kelsie knew she could handle this hacker while trying to elicit damning information as to their identity or location that might help authorities curtail their criminal operations.

We’ve included in this post the complete documentation of the emails and phone calls that went back and forth between Kelsie and the scammer, as well as her later emails with the Tallahassee Police Department — all of which led to the termination of the phisher’s bank accounts and the stoppage of the flow of money to his unwitting liaison, Barbara.

Here’s How It Developed

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Enter the Tallahassee Police Department

At this point, I’d already notified the police in Tallahassee to investigate the addresses I had received over the phone. The police discovered a woman at the location who had fallen for a “catfishing” scheme. An unknown man in Nigeria had convinced her that they had fallen in love. He needed her to send him “business checks” that would be coming to her address so that he could fly to Florida where they would meet. Investigator, Barbie Malafronte provided me with a fictitious check so we could track down the source.

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In the end, the Tallahassee Police Department shut down all of the bank accounts associated with this scammer.

Barbara, dropped all contact with the perpetrator once she understood that she had been victimized. Kelsie and the authorities discovered that the scammer was indeed living outside of the US, but the FBI only gets involved when an even more significant sum of money has been lost. 

Still, Kelsie and the Tallahassee Police Department stopped the scammer from tricking and stealing from others in the future, and they helped to rescue the scammer’s unknowing and innocent colleague, Barbara. 

This story is an excellent illustration of the damage that can be perpetrated via a phishing email scam. And reading about Kelsie’s experience might help you identify if you’ve been targeted.

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Now, Kelsie is clearly an internet-savvy individual; you may not be so quick to discern that you’ve been targeted by a scammer.

There are some hints you can be on high alert for —things like odd spacing issues, misspellings, and poor grammar. But for full protection, you need to enlist the help and training of an expert like Kelsie. 

If you want to learn more about our cyber-security feats and how we protect businesses from ransomware, viruses, and scammers, give us a call. We’re experts in this area and can help protect you and your company’s assets from these costly and opportunistic scams.

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