As mayor of Coquitlam, Richard Stewart sends his fair share of email, but a message circulating under his name asking for help with a bank transfer is not one of them.
Stewart said the note is a scam and warned residents not to reply to suspicious emails or click on links from contacts they are not familiar with.
“Just ignore ‘me’,” he wrote on Facebook to anyone who may have received the fraudulent message. “Unfortunately, scam emails are becoming more prevalent, which is why I publish so many such scams here, to call people’s attention the various scam techniques.”
The fake message started circulating last month and targeted several of Stewart’s colleagues at city hall.
Under the subject heading “Quick Assist1,” the email says Stewart is out of town and needs “your help to transfer funds from my bank account.”
“I realize it’s a huge imposition but I wouldn’t trust you with this if I absolutely had alternative means to help myself,” the message reads. “Let me know if you are comfortable so I can forward my banking details to you.”
If someone replies to the scam message, Stewart said they will likely be given instructions to buy gift cards or send banking information and passwords.
“No, I’m not ‘out-of-town’, and I don’t need help with my bank account,” the real Stewart wrote on Facebook.
This is not the first time his name has been used in these kinds of scams, he told the Tri-City News.
Last year, a similar message circulated around city hall and he said he believes a bot has captured his email address possibly through the city’s website.
He encouraged residents who believe they may be targets of a fraudulent email to ask a family member or a friend for help if they are confused about a message.
“Sadly, in this day and age, people need to keep informed about these types of scams,” he said, “and to make sure their loved ones are also aware and informed.”