Brice Handel – News Editor
Days before Christmas, about 35,000 Howard County residents received emails from Netflix stating that their accounts would be cancelled if they didn’t update their payment information. However, this turned out to be an elaborate phishing scam that was orchestrated by hackers targeting Calvin Ball.
The Sunday before Christmas, hackers signed into Ball’s Constant Contact account which contained email distribution lists with thousands of emails. Hackers used these email lists to distribute emails that appeared to come from Netflix with the subject line “Account Cancellation.” Upon opening the email, recipients were greeted with a message explaining that in order for their subscription to remain in effect they needed to re-enter their payment details. It was a typical phishing scam where hackers posed as a credible business in order to gather sensitive information. The email included a link to a phony Netflix website where people could enter their payment details. Thankfully, less than 700 people clicked on the link out of the 35,000 that received the email.
Within about two hours, Constant Contact had suspended Ball’s account and deactivated the scam link contained in the email. Howard County Officials have ensured residents that no government databases were compromised and no confidential personal information was released. At this time, Ball’s Constant Contact account has been restored and there have been no more repercussions as a result of this incident.