Joseph Steinberg: Cybercrime target Jewish congregations in USA to steal money, impersonating rabbis through emails
Cybercrime use the rabbis in need of urgency assistance as a lure with members of Jewish congregations in the USA. According to the cyber security expert Joseph Steinberg, earlier this month, criminal hackers involved set up Gmail accounts impersonating two rabbis from Chattanooga, Tennessee, and sent messages to members of the rabbis’ congregations, telling parishioners, “I need a favor from you, email me as soon as you get this message,” and asking them to purchase prepaid gift cards, and email the card numbers and associated PINs to the rabbis – likely seeking to exploit the fact that synagogues regularly send out emails asking for donations for various charity projects, and the fact that such fundraisers often do accept various types of gift cards that are then either distributed to needy individuals, or sold to raise money for the charitable work.
The cyber security expert: Similar scams seeking to exploit the trust that members of the clergy typically have earned from their parishioners have recently targeted Jewish communities in at least four other US southern States, and the attacks likely will continue
The cyber security expert added that the fraudulent Chattanooga emails were “signed by” either Rabbi Susan Tendler of B’nai Zion Congregation or Rabbi Craig Lewis of Mizpah Congregation, had email addresses that bore the rabbis’ respective names and titles, and had the traditional Hebrew greeting, “Shalom Aleichem” (peace be upon you), as their subject. According to published reports, similar cybercrime scams seeking to exploit the trust that members of the clergy typically have earned from their parishioners have recently targeted Jewish communities in at least four other US southern States. And, there is little reason to believe that similar attacks will not be launched in the future against both religious congregations of other faiths, as well as against secular charitable organizations whose leaders have earned the trust of their members.