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Federal Reserve Bank ‘Phishing Attack Warning’ Scam Emails

by Brett M. Christensen

Bogus emails purporting to be from the Federal Reserve Bank began hitting inboxes in January 2009.

The emails claim that a number of banks and credit unions have been affected by a “large-scaled phishing attack”, prompting the FDIC and the U.S. Treasury Department to apply restrictions to all federal wire transfers. The messages urge recipients to click a link, supposedly to open a website that provides more detailed information about the restrictions. 
The emails are not from the Federal Reserve Bank and are designed to trick users into clicking links included in the messages. Fedwire services have not been restricted and are operating normally. The FDIC published an alert about the scam on 15th January 2009, which states in part:

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is warning consumers, businesses and financial institutions to be aware of fraudulent e-mails allegedly from the Federal Reserve Bank. The fraudulent e-mails claim that a phishing attack has affected the Fedwire system and that restrictions are in place. The e-mails further instruct recipients to click on links within the e-mail for additional information.

The fraudulent e-mails have included various spoofed names and addresses in the “From:” line of the messages, including “Bank System Administration,” “System Administration” and “Federal Reserve Bank.”

According to the FDIC alert, the bogus web pages attempt to load malicious trojan horse programs onto the user’s computer. Testing of the version of the bogus email discussed here opened a porn site “Welcome” page that promised access to pornographic videos via other links on the page.

If you receive this or a similar email, do not click on any links or open any attachments that the message may contain.



You’re getting this letter in connection with new directions issued by U.S. Treasury Department. The directions concern U.S. Federal Wire online payments.

On January 21, 2009 a large-scaled phishing attack started and has been still lasting. A great number of banks and credit unions is affected by this attack and quantity of illegal wire transfers has reached an extremely high level.

U.S. Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in common worked out a complex of immediate actions for the highest possible reduction of fraudulent operations. We regret to inform you that definite restrictions will be applied to all Federal Wire transfers from January 27 till February 6.

Here you can get more detailed information regarding the affected banks and U.S. Treasury Department restrictions:

[Link to bogus website removed]

Federal Reserve Bank System Administration

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,