Local councils are alerting firms and residents in Northamptonshire to a fresh email scam using the authorities as a cover for fraud.
Cornwall council reported last Friday a local developer had been targeted by tricksters sending an mail asking for payment.
It appeared to be from the council's architect forwarding information from a senior planning officer with new bank account details where the money should go.
The con was only rumbled because the payment had already been made.
Urgent investigations revealed the conmen had used real names, email addresses that appeared genuine and email signatures for both the architect and the council to make the email look authentic.
Local council's fear the scam could spread to Northamptonshire.
Northampton Borough Council's cabinet member for finance Cllr Brandon Eldred said: “We will never ask customers to disclose personal or payment information by email, text or telephone and we will never disclose our payment information via these channels.
“We are committed to your online security, but the methods fraudsters use to obtain information are constantly changing, so individuals and businesses need to be alert.”
“Victims shouldn’t suffer in silence or feel embarrassed. By reporting a scam, people can help someone else avoid being tricked.”
This council's advice is to ensure emails come from addresses ending @northampton.gov.uk -- making sure the dots appear in .gov.uk. Council emails addresses never end in .com or .co.uk -- and anyone wanting to confirm any communcation from the council is genuine can contact them by phoning 0300 330 7000.
If someone believes that they have been the victim of an email scam, they should avoid clicking on websites or links in suspicious emails or opening attachments and report the matter to their bank or credit card issuer immediately