Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

The Washington Attorney General’s Office says a Pinole, Calif., man’s mirror-image version of Russell Investments’ site violated the state’s anti-phishing law. Rommel Balingit willwas ordered to pay a $10,000 civil penalty under an agreement filed in November in Thurston County Superior Court. [Clarification: The penalty was suspended provided he complies with the agreement terms.]

Assistant Attorney General Katherine Tassi said that Russell, a global financial services company headquartered in Tacoma, alerted the Attorney General’s Office to a lookalike site that resembled the company’s own site. Balingit claimed he built the Web site as a model to solicit clients to his now-defunct Web site design company.

 “The real Russell did stand up,” Tassi said. “And helped make sure the phony site was shut down.”

Speaking of phishing, the surge of blatantly deceptive e-mails that appear to come from banks continues. As we've warned you, cybercrooks are creating fake Web sites to take advantage of economic anxiety and are blasting out misleading spam messages with the hope that you'll click on a link and enter your personal information, such as an account number and password. You have a couple of choices if you get messages like these: 1) Simply hit delete or 2) Report the fakes to the Federal Trade Commission or the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. You also may report phishing e-mail to the Anti-Phishing Working Group.

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