Phishing emails claiming to be from Heads of Departments have tricked staff members into making expensive purchases


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“They don’t say anything about it and so then they don’t raise the profile,” O’Connell said.

Scammers are likely retrieving the information of the people they are targeting from the department websites.

The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, for example, has many affiliated persons at other institutions and universities who have also been targeted by the website.

Some departments have responded to the phishing scams by updating their website to replace the ‘@’ in emails with square brackets.

As a result, their emails cannot automatically be used and must instead be manually typed. This, however, has not prevented the scams since it is likely that they are from individuals with a targeted approach who can replicate writing styles, Varsity understands.

The phishing scam has most recently been brought to the attention of staff in the Cambridge Apple store. Workers refused to sell £500 worth of vouchers to one staff member until they rang their Head of Department directly and realised the fraudulent nature of the original email.

The University has cyber awareness training for staff members, but this is not compulsory. In response to recent scams, Heads of Departments are continuing to strongly encourage staff to complete the training. Alongside staff, PhD students and early career researchers have been targeted by phishing scams.

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