Texas School District Falls for Email Phishing Scam, Loses $2.3 Million

Authorities are investigating after a Texas school district lost around $2.3 million in a phishing email scam.

The Manor Independent School District said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Manor Police Department are investigating an incident involving the phishing scam.

There were three separate fraudulent transactions in the scam, all of which took place in November, Manor Police Department Detective Anne Lopez told CBS Austin.

She said a school district employee noticed the issue in December and immediately reported it to police. "Scams are unbiased, they reach anyone anywhere any time," Lopez told the station.

January 10, 2020 - Manor, TX - The Manor Police Department along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating an incident involving a phishing email scam that resulted in the loss of approximately $2.3 million to the Manor Independent School District. pic.twitter.com/KTT8IHhQrT

— Manor ISD (@ManorISD) January 10, 2020

In a news release, the school district said there are "strong leads" in the case, but the investigation is still ongoing. Further details about the scam were not provided.

"Manor ISD appreciates the Manor Police Department working together to communicate this to our community," the school district, which serves more than 9,620 students, added.

The school district and the Manor Police Department have been contacted for additional comment.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers use email or text messages to trick people into giving out personal information. "They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers," the agency says on its website.

"If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they're often successful."

They say phishing emails and text messages may look like they're from a company that you know or trust, such as a bank, a credit card company, a social networking site, an online payment store or an app.

The phishing emails or text messages "often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment," the agency adds.

These may include them saying they've noticed suspicious activity or log-in attempts or a problem with an account or payment information. They may also say you must confirm personal information, include a fake invoice or offer a coupon for free stuff.

The agency says spam filters might keep phishing emails out of your inbox, but "scammers are always trying to outsmart spam filters, so it's a good idea to add extra layers of protection."

These can include protecting your computer with security software, protecting your phone by setting software to update automatically, protecting your data by backing it up and protecting your accounts by using multi-factor authentication.

phishing scam
Stock photo. A Texas school district said authorities are investigating after it lost around $2.3 million in a phishing email scam. Getty