Combating cybercrime is an ongoing battle – Brainerd Dispatch | #cybercrime | #infosec

BRAINERD — Whenever you get an email, phone call or text from someone you don’t know, all sorts of red flags should be going up, according to local law enforcement dealing with cybercrime.

With scammers becoming more proficient and savvy with their crimes, Travis Loeffler, an investigator with the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office, said not even he is immune from scams.

Having traveled out of state for work recently and registering his vehicle for another state’s toll system, Loeffler said he received a text message a few weeks after returning from his trip telling him he forgot to pay one of his tolls and to click on the link to take care of the bill.

Loeffler said he did not click the link and instead went to the toll’s website to check on the charge himself. There was no charge. It was a scam.

“We have legitimate databases that get hacked and our information gets stolen by scammers,” Loeffler said.

“It just kind of depends on what kind of people they have working for them. If they have people that are really, really schooled and trying to break through companies’ firewalls, I mean, we hear about legitimate companies, banks, retail organizations that get hacked and their customers account information gets compromised. It’s their names, date of birth, addresses, email and stuff like that. And that’s where a lot of that stuff can come from.”

Cass County Sheriff’s Office investigator Ryan Fisher said scammers are becoming wiser as people are realizing something is up when being asked for payment for something like gift cards.

“Now they’re asking for people to go to these cryptocurrency ATMs and load money onto their cyber wallet,” Fisher said.

Fisher said he received a report from a bank where they had a customer who lost around $10,000 but they were too embarrassed to report it.

“There’s a lot of shame and embarrassment and I think there’s probably a fair amount that’s under-reported,” Fisher said.

A lot of times people will get an email from an illegitimate tech support person telling them they need to take action. Others will pose as law enforcement or a government official with an urgent request to avoid some unfortunate circumstance.

“Microsoft or any of these computer companies, they’re not just going to reach out to you out of the blue and tell you you’ve got computer problems,” Loeffler said. “Microsoft, one of the biggest companies out there, is not monitoring the millions of computers in this world. They don’t have the time or even the resources to do this. And they’re not going to be just blindly reaching out to you, that would be a red flag to me.”

Loeffler said if someone is concerned their computer or software has been compromised, take it to a brick-and-mortar business that specializes in technology repair. When receiving any direct communication from a business you were not planning on getting, he said it is good practice to go to that business’s website and find contact information to contact that business directly to verify the information you received.

“Law enforcement, including the IRS and all these government entities, are never going to solicit money from you over the phone,” Loeffler said.

Further Steps to Protect Yourself

TIM SPEIER, staff writer, can be reached on Twitter


, call 218-855-5859 or email

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Tim Speier joined the Brainerd Dispatch in October 2021, covering Public Safety.

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National Cyber Security