Students recieve scam emails and phone calls disguised as PubSafe

By ANNABELLA TWOMEY

Numerous students received fake Public Safety emails and phone calls over Winter Term from an individual posing as Lisa Burchard, director of public safety. The emails told students that there was an emergency and asked for their phone numbers. Follow-up phone calls then requested that students go to court and pay a fine.  

Burchard became aware of the situation after hearing that a few students had received such emails from a sender titled “[email protected]” The emails were signed from Burchard.

“In this situation, the investigation revealed that the sender’s goal was to use my name to make contact with students and request money by threatening arrest and asking for bail money through the scam,” Burchard said. Students quickly reported the emails and calls to Public Safety, who notified Middlebury’s ITS Information Security team. ITS located similar emails from three other Gmail accounts and removed the scam email from the accounts of approximately 100 students. Affected students were notified of the scam and informed of the steps ITS took to remove the emails. 

Burchard said the email phishing attacks came from outside of the college’s network. In order to prevent further scams, “ITS is evaluating the re-introduction of “external sender warnings” at the top of emails sent to student mailboxes,” Burchard said.