Scam alert

Scam alert

Bogus emails, appearing to come from Jewish organizations, are seeking money from community members

Security director of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Shawn Brokos, warns of scam (Photo by James Uncapher)
Security director of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Shawn Brokos, warns of scam (Photo by James Uncapher)

Some Pittsburgh Jewish organizations have been affected by an email scheme seeking to defraud members of those organizations, according to a warning issued by Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Over the last several weeks, employees of many local government and faith-based institutions, including Jewish institutions, have received emails from people claiming to be members of the recipient’s organization.

“In all reported incidents, the email begins with a request for a favor from the recipient,” according to an email from Brokos about the scam. “In incidents where the recipient has responded to the email, the sender claims to be unavailable, due to a meeting or other reason, and requests that the recipient purchase gift cards for a named retailer in specific monetary amounts. The sender further directs the recipient to provide the number and PIN information for the gift cards, via email, once the cards have been purchased.

“In each incident, the email has been sent from a Gmail address created to mimic a legitimate organization email address. Additionally, all reported emails have contained signature blocks that are accurate to the institutions they are attempting to imitate. A similar effort was reported by numerous organizations in July 2019.”

Last month, Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation posted on social media that it had been targeted by a scam in which an email purportedly from “Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers” asking for a “favor” was circulating. The email was not from the rabbi’s real email address.

Brokos requests people share this warning with their contacts.

Anyone aware of any additional incidents are requested to get in touch with Brokos at The incidents are being tracked at the Federation through its Virtual Command Center. Additionally, anyone receiving one of these emails is urged to report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center,

“Reporting this via enables law enforcement to find commonalities in these schemes (phone numbers, IP addresses, etc.) to better identify and investigate the target(s),” said Brokos. pjc

Toby Tabachnick

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