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E-mail Scam Targets Empire Bank

In a new banking scam where fraudsters were tapping into customers' accounts by making fraudulent calls over the phone are now sending phishing e-mails, an official of the Empire Bank said on December 10, 2007.

Vice President Cindy Harding of Empire Bank cautioned clients not to give away their bank account numbers or personal information when asked over telephone voice mail or e-mail that directs the user to a page looking similar to the bank's page. NewsLeader reported this on December 10, 2007.

In the fortnight spanning over the end week of November 2007 and the first week of December 2007, the scam circulated in the 417-code zone with the start of phone voice mails, Harding said. The message told the receivers that it was time for their bank details to expire so they are required to update them with the latest information. Other than the Empire Bank, some more banks also have been attacked, including Flagstar Bank based in Michigan, Harding said.

Currently, fraudulent e-mail supposedly from the Empire Bank informs the recipients that there is a secure but unread message in their inbox. However, a link in that message leads to a web page that resembles the website of Empire and requests for the user's name, ZIP code, e-mail id, 16-digit number of debit card, CCV code of the card, its expiry date and 4-digit PIN number.

Armed with that, the fraudsters create counterfeit debit cards and withdraw money from the consumer's bank account, Harding explained.

Harding also illustrated an example in which the consumer was asked to visit www.empirebankonline.com, which isn't the true site of Empire Bank. But when logged onto it, the site resembled Empire's website. This was possible because the scammers used copies of the graphics of the real site.

Empire Bank has asked an external party to help track fraudulent sites and shut them down. The websites were registered with someone else's stolen identity. Once the stolen identity and the credit card company or bank from where the payment was made is established, it would be possible to get the phony site deactivated, Harding believed.

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