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Spear Phishing scam

ESCAMBIA COUNTY   --  Con Artists are always looking for new ways to get you to fall for their scams.  Sneaking into your email to steal information is another trick up their sleeve in a scam called, Spear Phishing. 

Several Escambia County residents Channel 3 News spoke to revealed they knew very little about the Spear Phishing scam.

"My dad goes spear fishing, but I've never heard of a scam" said Katie Livengood.

"You're talking about the kind of phishing for information online, not actual, okay" said Ethan Harris.

Harold Beard knows all about Spear Phishing when he became a target.  His story begins when he tried to sell some of his paintings online.

"She said I really like them, can you get me a price on them" said Harold Beard, Fraud Victim.

The call came from a woman who said she saw his artwork online and was interested in buying some of his paintings.  Harold thought it was strange she asked for his mailing address.  Instead of giving out his address, he opened a P.O. box at a UPS store.

"And that's what I sent her and I thought this is really phony" said Beard.

Then Harold got a note from a shipping company.

"I immediately looked up the shipper and it was a legitimate website and I'm starting to get a little stoked about this" said Beard.

Joy quickly turned to disappointment, when Harold learned from other artists in his circle, they were also being targeted.  Postal Inspectors call this Spear Phishing, when scammers zero in on a specific group of people who know each other.

"When they converse, it makes the artist really excited--oh this is someone who really knows about artwork and they want my art." said Ricky Vida, U.S. Postal Inspector.

"When you get something like this and they are really playing with your emotions" said Beard.

The red flags continued to fly when Harold got a $3,000 dollar check.  The woman claimed she accidentally sent too much money and wanted Harold to cash the check.  After taking his share, send the rest of the money back to her.
Con Artists rely on the victim depositing the bad check.  This leaves the victim on the hook for the check and the goods being sold are also gone.  Luckily Harold caught onto the scam before he became a victim.

"I'm going to consider it a scam until it's seen differently" said Beard.

Harold now has the fake $3,000 check framed as a reminder to always be cautious.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to a Spear Phishing scam.
Remember, most companies and banks don't ask for personal information through email.  Use a phishing filter on your internet browser.  Never follow a link to a website from an email, instead manually type in the web address.