A bright yellow public notice on the home page of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California’s Web site is trying to clear up a little problem.
An e-mail scam targeted at executives and other high-profile individuals involved a fake subpoena from what appeared to be the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of California. (The court does not e-mail subpoenas.)
Each message included the executive’s name, company and phone number, and commanded recipients to testify before a grand jury. By clicking on an accompanying link , supposedly a copy of the subpoena to view and print , recipients got hit with a virus that shut down their computers only to record their keystrokes when turned back on.
“We’ve had a number of complaints that we’ve received not only here locally but nationally,” said Darrell Foxworth, a spokesman with the San Diego division of the FBI. Without specifying numbers, he said the agency is actively looking into it.
The e-mail attack is the latest “phishing” scheme, an attempt to fraudulently obtain sensitive information from a recipient’s computer by masquerading as a trusted source.
Stephan Chenette, manager of the security labs at Websense Inc., a San Diego-based Internet filtering software company, said the spammers had most likely purchased information from a CEO database containing various personal information.
Those who receive the e-mail, from firstname.lastname@example.org, are advised to delete it without opening it. The FBI has directed recipients to file complaints at www.ic3.gov.
, Heather Chambers