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Senior Staff Writer

E-ZPass drivers warned about Phishing scam

Jul 14, 20143 mins
CybercrimeData and Information SecurityIdentity Management Solutions

Drivers using the toll service are being targeted in a new scam

security phishing hook
Credit: Thinkstock

E-ZPass Group, a toll collection program consisting of 25 agencies in 15 states, has issued a warning to customers concerning a Phishing scam that is posing as a collection notice.

In a notice to customers, E-ZPass stated that the messages being reported are not authorized communications, even if a person’s account is behind on payments. If that happens to be the case, payment notices are invoiced and sent to the customer directly via the United States Postal Service.

“We advise you not to open or respond to such a message should you receive one,” the E-ZPass warning stated.

The emails are coming from compromised WordPress installations, and have been sent in batches since July 8. The messages use the E-ZPass brand’s colors (a bold purple that is present on all toll signs in the states were the service is used), and contain a subject related to driving on toll roads.

More than likely, the E-ZPass warning notes, the message is an attempt to steal sensitive information, including usernames, passwords, and financial data.

However, Gary Warner, Chief Technologist and Co-Founder of Malcovery, tested the Phishing emails and discovered that the links were pointing to malware that will connect the infected host to the ASProx botnet. Based on information he has received, the infected systems are primarily being used for advertising click-fraud.

In order to help detect the scam quicker, E-ZPass singled out the subject lines of “In arrears for driving on toll road” and “Payment for driving on toll road” as recent examples. In his research, Warner also discovered “Indebtedness for driving on toll road” and “Pay for driving on toll road“.

The context of the Phishing attack itself is short and to the point:

“Dear customer,

You have not paid for driving on a toll road. This invoice is sent repeatedly, please service your debt in the shortest possible time.

The invoice can be downloaded here.”

Drivers in Indiana, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, and Virginia have received similar warnings, as reports of the Phishing attack spread to each of the states supporting the E-ZPass system, representing some 14 million accounts.

The source of the contact information being used in the scam is unknown. While a data breach somewhere in the EZ-Pass chain of operation is possible, proof of such an incident hasn’t turned up.

It’s likely the criminals behind the Phishing scheme are sending the emails blindly, waiting to see who falls for the bait. This theory is also backed by the fact that some of those targeted in the Phishing attack are not E-ZPass customers.

“Phishing scams are pervasive and users should always be on the lookout for unexpected communications from organizations they have relationships with,” said Chester Wisniewski, Senior Security Advisor for Sophos, when asked his thoughts on the scam.

“It can be tempting to click before you think, but important messages are not typically sent via email. The safest thing to do is go directly to the web site of the organization or pick up the phone if you are unsure.”

This story was updated to include information from Gary Warner on 7-14-2014.