Internet scams are nothing new, but one of the latest ones might have a better chance of fooling customers living in military communities in Europe than others.

E-mails addressed to a “BOA Military Bank Customer” might appear to be from Community Bank, the financial institution on many U.S. bases run by Bank of America under a contract from the Department of Defense. Or maybe targeting those who hold government travel cards through Bank of America. Or possibly for those who choose to open accounts specifically geared toward servicemembers by the bank.

But the e-mails are just another in a series of scams from someone trying to steal money or personal information from unsuspecting computer users.

Bank of America officials said they had to see the e-mail before commenting and couldn’t do so before Stripes’ deadline. But, according to a statement on the company’s Web site: “Bank of America e-mails will never ask you to reply to an e-mail with any personal information or data, such as your Social Security number, ATM or Check Card PIN, or any other sensitive information.”

Dave Funk, chief of information assurance for U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, said such attempts have become increasingly common in recent years. And more sophisticated.

“These are not 18-year-old geniuses with nothing to do,” he said. “These are mature adults very capably writing code for the purpose of stealing your money.”

Crackdowns by countries around the globe against those writing viruses have put a large dint in that potential problem, Funk said. But those sending out e-mails trying to get either direct investment (stock “tips”), bank account information (“relatives” of African politicians looking to give away millions) or to annoy and/or offend (penis enhancement) are still around.

“A lot of it is blocked [by military networks],” Funk said. “The problem is that the little that gets through can seem like a lot. A lot of it is objectionable, and a lot of it is just flat-out trying to steal your money.”

Funk said people getting e-mails of any kind from a business or agency should never reply to the e-mail or click any links in it. Instead, call the company or make an inquiry through an official Web site.

He said legitimate companies and organizations will never ask for information in e-mails such as user IDs, passwords, account numbers or Social Security numbers.

“If someone asks for information like that, they’re not who they say they are.”

While some offers might look legitimate and provide some temptation, Funk said it’s best to resist.

“There ain’t no free lunch,” he said. “And if it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true.”

author picture
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now