Over the weekend, the Wilton Chamber of Commerce and its members were targets of an email scam, with someone sending emails to members under the guise of being from the Chamber, asking for money.
According to the Chamber’s assistant director, Camille Carriero, the scam started last Saturday, Feb. 29, when five members received fishing emails asking for help. The emails named the recipient directly, and asked for donations of gift certificates or gift cards “to help veterans,” and were signed with name of the current president of the Chamber, Susan Goldman.
The email did not have any Chamber logo or typical appearance of an email that would have been sent out, which is part of what raised eyebrows for some of the recipients. There were also misspellings and grammatical errors. Additionally, the sender’s email did not use the Chamber domain name.
“A couple of people sent us messages about that. And I said to them, ‘Please ignore, that’s not from us, but thank you for informing us,” Carriero said.
Two other members, however, did reply to the email, initially not realizing it was a scam. “As soon as they sent the reply email, within a minute another email came in saying, ‘Please provide gift certificates or gift cards from Walmart and other places and scratch it off and then send me the picture of the card with the number scratched off.’ That’s when people were saying, ‘Okay, this is not real.’” she added.
Chamber executive director Debra Hanson notified the full membership Wednesday, warning them to disregard and delete any message from Goldman and the Chamber asking for help.
Carriero believes that only a few initial people received the fishing emails last weekend, and that fortunately, none of them have told Chamber officials that they were actual victims and sent money.
The Chamber did not report the email to police, opting instead to notify their members at large on Wednesday.
“It was only five members that had mentioned it to us. So it’s very fresh and we’re still debating on how to handle this. But the first step that we wanted to take was to let every member know that this is not coming from us and we would never do this,” Carriero said.
She suspects that whoever sent the email gleaned the information directly from the Chamber website, which lists the names of its officers as well as contact names and email address of members in a directory.
“We reached out to our web developer and she said that our site was not hacked, there was no breach in that. So we feel that it’s just a random person that’s going through our website and targeting members,” Carriero said.
She called it heartbreaking that someone would take advantage of Chamber members this way.
“There’s a lot of bad people around. They’re just trying to hurt good, honest people who want to help the local community.”