FRANKLIN, Wis. — Community Resource Officer Gary Wallace knew seconds after receiving an email from what he first thought was PayPal, that he was being targeted in a "phishing email" scheme. He shared the email details on the department's Facebook page.
"It said it was from service at PayPal. It actually looked legitimate. It said my account has been restricted," Community Resource Officer Gary Wallace said.
Officer Wallace doesn't recommend ever clicking on links in an unsolicited email, but he tested it out to show why it was suspicious. The link in the email took him to a website that asked for his PayPal username and password. If he did that, scammers could have gotten his log-in information as well as access to his money.
Here's another red flag: when he hit reply, he learned the sender's email address was "email@example.com."
"Which immediately set the alarm bells off," said Wallace.
"I think they're evolving a little bit in that we're seeing them come through text messages as well," said Lisa Schiller with the Better Business Bureau.
Schiller says con-artists have been known to send out these phishing emails, posing as your bank, your credit card company, or even an anti-virus software system and they have their go-to scare tactics.
"They're unsolicited. They come out of the clear blue. There's always a sense of urgency," she added.
Schiller says to look for misspellings and grammatical errors.
This phishing email Officer Wallace received went to his personal email address. If you're wondering why not use his law enforcement badge and go after the bad guy? He explains it's a lot more complicated than that.
"We are limited in our scope as local law enforcement as far as enforcing this and going after the scammers. They very well might not even be in the country," said Wallace.
He hopes his Facebook post and even this story will make everyone think twice when they get an email where the sender needs you to act fast.
"All they need to do is get a few to respond to it and they've made their money, and they can make a lot of money doing it," Wallce said.