Ada County warns of text/e-mail malware scam

Posted at 8:18 AM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 10:28:17-04

BOISE — Detectives are investigating a text-message phishing scam by someone posing as an Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Investigators say they are aware of at least three people who have received unsolicited text messages over the last several weeks from someone pretending to be an ACSO deputy named “Jason” -– and when those people clicked on a link in those messages, it apparently installed malware on their phones that gives the scammers access to stored data. That includes personal information such as photo libraries, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.

“It also appears at least of one of those victims got threatening messages from “Jason” demanding money or else they would release info from that person’s phone over the internet,” according to a Sheriff’s Office posting.

“To make matters even worse, the picture accompanying the text messages is from a current ACSO deputy, who detectives suspect had his photo copied from social media and is now being used by the scammers,” the posting added.

“Criminals using the good name and reputation of our agency to try to defraud our citizens is unacceptable. What makes it really vexing is that the criminals can be hundreds -- or even thousands -- of miles away, because so much of this fraud and harassment is done over the internet. It is very difficult to trace,” it stated.

Ada County detectives are working with state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and arrest the criminals.

For now, the best way to avoid being a victim of a scam like this is to just delete text messages or e-mails from people you don’t know -– and NEVER click on a link in those messages. The links are where the malware or ransom-ware lives.

“You should know that an Ada County Sheriff’s deputy will never send you an unsolicited email or text message with a picture of them sitting in a car and asking personal questions. They will also never put a link in messages,” the posting

Two of the three victims detectives are aware of have not yet contacted authorities. Ada County Sheriff’s Office detectives are trying to reach out to them to get information.

If you have received text messages from ACSO officer “Jason” -- or anyone else claiming to be an ACSO deputy – you are urged to call the Ada County non-emergency dispatch at (208) 377-6790 or Detective Rob Fowler at (208) 577-3703.