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Two charged in Utah e-mail scam, FBI says

SALT LAKE CITY — Two people are facing federal bank fraud charges after authorities say they targeted a Utah business in an e-mail scam.

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the state of Utah says Saheed Yusuf and Vanisha Matthis sent the Utah company an e-mail from a “spoofed” e-mail address, impersonating another company the victims would normally do business with. The phony e-mail demanded an immediate wire transfer of thousands of dollars.

Supervisory Special Agent Jeff Collins, who oversees the Cyber Task Force for the FBI Salt Lake City Division, says this type of thing is unfortunate but happens all the time in Utah.

“150 different Utah businesses reported cumulative losses of five million dollars,” Collins says. “This year, we’ve already had well over $20 million.”

In the FBI Confidential podcast, Collins told KSL Newsradio business e-mail compromises are the number one threat his office sees currently.

He advises following normal precautions in e-mail security: changing passwords regularly, never using the same password for more than one account, etc. But he also recommends businesses never take wire instructions by e-mail. If your business receives a demand via e-mail, Collins says you should instantly be suspicious – and pick up the phone to confirm it’s real.

In this case, the Utah Department of Public Safety says Yusuf and Matthis are accused of setting up bank accounts using fake IDs. By claiming to be an executive of a legitimate company that does business with the victims, they were able to demand nearly $60,000, then withdraw it quickly from the accounts they had set up.

Both men are facing charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and aggravated ID theft.

The FBI did not name the business that was defrauded. Yusuf and Matthis are both residents of Atlanta, Ga. Their trial dates are set for later this year.