Over the past few months, the DIT's security office has seen an increase in scam email targeting UMD faculty and staff members. These messages usually take on one of the following forms:

  1. The message will appear to come from your dean, department chair, director, or other supervisor asking if you are in the office. If you reply, the scammer will then send you several follow up messages stating that they “are in an important meeting” and “cannot be contacted by phone” but that they need you to go purchase some physical gift cards for them and send them photos of the backs of the cards.
  2. The message will appear to come from your supervisor or a vendor asking you to wire an urgent payment or update your payment information for paying the vendor.

If you receive a message asking you to send gift card or payment information to someone, you should STOP and contact the requester in person, by phone, or via text message to verify that they did send the message. Generally upon inspecting the sender’s email address, you will discover that the message actually came from a non-UMD email system (for example, gmail.com, my.com, or hotmail.com) set up to spoof the name of a UMD employee fraudulently.

Scam emails like these are one reason why UMD faculty and staff should only conduct UMD business using official UMD accounts. Using non-UMD addresses for university business makes it more difficult for colleagues and other UMD community members to recognize attempts to impersonate us using fraudulent accounts. Also, we should not forward @umd.edu email to gmail.com or other personal email addresses, because these systems do not meet the requirements of FERPA and other data protection rules.

If you receive a message like the ones described above, please forward it to spam@umd.edu. DIT security staff will work to have the scammer’s email account disabled. If possible, please include the full email headers.

If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, please contact the University of Maryland Police Department at 301.405.3555.

Learn more about how to protect yourself against phishing attempts.