N. Ky. chamber 'phished' for $163K

N. Ky. chamber 'phished' for $163K

Business First of Louisville - September 15, 2006

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce said Friday that it was a victim of a "phishing" scam that involved an e-mail purportedly from Fifth Third Bank.

"Phishing" is a Web-based scam involving fraudulent e-mails or Web sites that appear to be from a local financial institution and ask for personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers. The scammers then use the information to steal money from accounts or credit cards.

In the chamber's case, an accounting/bookkeeping employee was fooled by an authentic-looking e-mail that claimed to be from Fifth Third Bank and provided account information. Millions of similar e-mails have been sent in recent weeks to the bank's customers around the Tri-State.

The phishers stole about $163,000 from the organization's bank account before the problem was discovered.

The chamber said that, with Fifth Third's help, $65,465 of the stolen funds have been recovered, and another $45,541 have been traced to temporary bank accounts around the world.

Chamber President Steve Stevens said in a letter to members that the theft will not hurt the group financially, and that members' information and credit card accounts were not accessed.

"Even though this has been a difficult lesson to learn, I want to assure our business members and the community that the chamber is financially solvent and focused on our mission or leading businesses and leading communities," Stevens said in the letter.