Scammers foiled by quick response

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Automated calls originated from hijacked phone number in California

By Linda Ireland

Magnolia Bank officials aren’t sure how many residents received bogus phone calls informing them of a problem with their accounts last week. But they believe they learned of the scam before any losses were incurred.

Starting April 6, several LaRue Countians received fraudulent calls asking them to disclose personal information. A few provided the information, while others reported the calls to the bank and the LaRue County Sheriff’s office.

“Thanks to the prompt efforts of the media and our employees, any customers that did provide account data notified us quickly, allowing us to stop any fraudulent activity charges,” said Deena Bradley, vice president and information security officer for Magnolia Bank.

The bank’s security was not breached by the scammers, Bradley said, adding that the bank was as much a victim as its customers.

“The scammers input local numbers into their automated dialing system (and in some cases actually made person-to-person calls) in an attempt to make contact with some people that would provide data.”

The scammers are still working the area, she said.

“We have recently been notified that ‘phase two’ of this scam has begun,” Bradley said. “We have received one report of a text message going out requesting the person to call a number and verify his account information. We also expect e-mail messages to follow prompting customers (and any person with an e-mail account the scammers have input into their database) to follow a link to a copycat Web site or ask for account information for verification as well.”

If you receive any of the fraudulent calls or if you provided account information to the caller, contact the bank immediately if you have not already done so. Call any of the four branches at Magnolia, 324-3226; Lincoln Hills, Hodgenville, 358-3111; Hodgenville Parkway Plaza, 358.3183; and Elizabethtown, 765-4072.

The FBI is investigating similar incidents in other states.