Scam reportedly affects 330 former, current city of Albert Lea employees

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Current and former Albert Lea city employees were notified within the last week of a phishing scam affecting the city earlier this year.

Albert Lea City Attorney Kelly Dawn Martinez said she was notified July 11 by the FBI that a phishing email sent to the city was responded to, which affected approximately 330 past and current Albert Lea employees. An unauthorized third party reportedly obtained an electronic file containing 2017 W-2 forms. Credit card and bank account information was not compromised.

Once being notified by the FBI, the city began an investigation into the incident. Once the investigation was completed, the letters to affected employees were mailed.

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Martinez said due to the timing of the breach, most filers had already sent in 2017 tax returns.

In addition to the notice about the scam to affected filers, the city has offered credit monitoring and identity theft protection services, along with information on reporting IRS and Minnesota tax fraud.

Martinez said scammers most often use fraudulent information to file erroneous tax returns and then divert the returns to unauthorized third parties.

She said phishing emails are evolving.

“They look like they come from a trusted source,” Martinez said. “They’re skilled at knowing what information wouldn’t attract attention when they send these, so they get responded to, because unless you are looking for those real subtle distinctions, you believe it comes from a trusted source.”


See what happened last night in the PM report here.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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