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Washington County courts warn of ‘phishing’ scheme

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Washington County officials are warning residents of an online “phishing” scheme after numerous people have received fake emails designed to look like they’re coming from court administrators about bogus cases.

Steven Tkach, the director of technology for Washington County courts, said he first became aware of the scheme on Friday when people began calling the court administrator inquiring about the faulty cases.

He said the emails with headings of “Hearing of your case in Court” and “Notice to Appear in Court” are mostly going into junk or spam folders, but should not be opened because they often contain viruses or spyware. He said Washington County court administrators are not sending the messages and never send case information or court dates via email.

Tkach, who even received two of the emails in his spam box, said tech workers noticed the problem was more prevalent than initially thought as they investigated.

“These emails are designed to get people scared,” Tkach said.

He thinks phishing software “grabs names” and Internet protocol addresses near Washington and funnels them into the email blast. Tkach suspects the emails are also being sent to other cities and counties named Washington.

Most spam filters will weed out the false emails, he said, so most people don’t have to be worried about the scheme.

However, he advised people not to open the emails or any attachments if they receive them in their inbox or spam folders. People who do receives a bogus email should simply delete it.

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