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Hawkins' Holliston Mills plant scammed by phony CEO email

Jeff Bobo • Jan 29, 2019 at 10:34 AM

CHURCH HILL — The Hawkins County Sheriff's Office is warning area businesses about a new email scam where the crook, posing as a company CEO, requests the purchase of gift cards.

The person posing as the CEO then requests the employee to take a photo of the card numbers and PIN and email it back.

Last week, the Holliston Mills plant in Church Hill was scammed out of $2,000.

The company purchasing agent reported to HCSO Deputy Stacy Vaughan that she started receiving emails on Jan. 22 from a person identifying himself as the company's CEO Eric Cook.

The emails instructed the purchasing agent to obtain two $500 gift cards from Best Buy and two $500 gift cards from Target, which were going to be used to reward company employees.

The purchasing agent was also instructed to keep those purchases a secret because it was going to be a surprise.

"The email instructed (the purchasing agent), upon purchase of the cards, to scratch out the back and send an email picture showing the PIN number, which she complied," Vaughan said. "The following day (the purchasing agent) spoke to the CEO Eric Cook in person and asked about the gift cards. Eric Cook stated he had not sent any emails instructing any type pf purchases."

HCSO Chief Deputy Tony Allen said Monday there's no reason to believe at this time that this scam was committed locally.

He said although this incident is under investigation, this was likely an international group, as has been the case with similar scams taking place across the country.

Allen noted that due to the high number of gift card scams taking place, anyone who receives a request for a gift card purchase always take steps to ensure that it’s legitimate.

Sheriff Ronnie Lawson recommends that if there is a question, the public can request an officer to help determine if these type of communications are legitimate or scams.