Local businesses targeted by scam e-mails

For the third time in just two months, local businesses are being targeted by malicious emails. The letters disguise themselves as the Better Business Bureau wanting to tell you about a consumer complaint.

For more than three decades, President and CEO Ed Cushman has worked hard at C&H Foreign Auto Repair in North Foothills to gain customers’ trust. So when he got an email from the BBB indicating someone had filed a complaint against him he had to find out why.

?Oh my gosh, this is real, this is a complaint and I need to click here to find out about it right away,? Cushman remembers thinking as he read the email.

The email came just before Christmas and what Cushman didn’t know is that this email was another round of scam emails that were not from the BBB.

?I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction that you always want to take care of your customers,? Cushman said.

That’s exactly what these scammers want business owners to think. Not only are they preying on the egos of proud business owners, they’re also posing ? and quite convincingly ? as the BBB. They include the logo, local names of employees and locations.

The emails normally come with an attachment or link, but once you click it your business could be crippled.

?We’re always saying start with trust, and be careful and be aware of these scam, so they would assume we’re not going to be scamming them,? Chelsea Dannen with the BBB said.

Dannen has seen these emails before. In fact, this is the third round of scam emails since Thanksgiving. She knew the scam was back in January when Cushman came knocking. When he clicked the link in the fake email his entire hard drive was wiped out.

?His email, all of his documents, everything, photos, information with consumers, business-to-business information, everything,? Dannen said. ?It ends up doing nasty things to your computer.?

Cushman quickly learned his lesson, but the clean-up took two weeks. It’s not a scam he’ll fall for again, but if this BBB Board Member can fall for it then anyone can.

?If you get a complaint from the Better Business Bureau you need to respond to it immediately, but if it’s via email don’t open it,? Cushman said laughing. ?Call them!?

The national Better Business Bureau has hired an outside company to track down and stop the malicious emails. So far they’ve shut down more than 50 websites behind the scam.

If you think you’ve received a fake BBB email, contact the local office at (509) 455-4200 immediately.