SCAM ALERT: Bad actors misrepresenting themselves as Berrien Community Foundation employees

Local businesses should be aware of a scam in which individuals are electronically posing as Berrien Community Foundation employees and attempting to make large purchases of laptop computers online and through email. The bad actors are misrepresenting themselves by making minor changes in the actual email addresses of BCF employees. Several fraudulent large purchases have been thwarted when local business owners followed up directly with BCF and the scams were uncovered. 

There has been no breach of BCF computer systems and there are no indications that any personal information has been compromised.

“Thanks to the vigilance of several local business owners, these purchases didn’t go through,” said BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey. "We are working with the online webhost who issued the domain name to prevent reoccurrence, but as we all know, the potential for phishing scams is limitless. BCF is also working with the Berrien County Sheriff to protect local businesses and our employees.” 

According to America’s Cyber Defense Agency (CISA), common indicators of phishing attempts are:

  • Suspicious sender's address. The sender's address may imitate a legitimate business. Cybercriminals often use an email address that closely resembles one from a reputable company by altering or omitting a few characters.
  • Generic greetings and signature. Both a generic greeting—such as "Dear Valued Customer" or "Sir/Ma'am"—and a lack of contact information in the signature block are strong indicators of a phishing email. A trusted organization will normally address you by name and provide their contact information.
  • Spoofed hyperlinks and websites. If you hover your cursor over any links in the body of the email and the links do not match the text that appears when hovering over them, the link may be spoofed. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). Additionally, cybercriminals may use a URL shortening service to hide the true destination of the link.
  • Spelling and layout. Poor grammar and sentence structure, misspellings, and inconsistent formatting are other indicators of a possible phishing attempt. Reputable institutions have dedicated personnel that produce, verify, and proofread customer correspondence.
  • Suspicious attachments. An unsolicited email requesting a user download and open an attachment is a common delivery mechanism for malware. A cybercriminal may use a false sense of urgency or importance to help persuade a user to download or open an attachment without examining it first.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provides advice on how to protect yourself from phishing attacks. also gives advice on how to avoid being a victim of cyber attacks.