Police: Ross School Falls Victim to Phishing Scam

A memorial created by the students of The Ross School for those killed at the massacre at Virginia Tech University lies on the lawn in front of the High School Building (file photo).
The Ross School.

By Christine Sampson

The Ross School was the target of a phishing scam that resulted in wire transfers totaling about $167,000 from school coffers to multiple Chinese bank accounts, according to an East Hampton Town police report released Monday afternoon.

On April 10, two Ross School administrators filed a police report detailing the incident, in which they claim they received a phishing email that mimicked correspondence from the Ross School president and chief executive officer. The incident took place on April 7, according to the police report. It was not until April 10 that the chief financial officer, James Grossi, “confirmed that this was in fact fraud and contacted police,” the report states.

A phishing scam is an attempt by an impostor, either conducted online or by telephone, that attempts to trick someone into transferring money or sharing personal information by mimicking a familiar person, business or institution.

The Ross School’s police report shows at least one transfer was made in the amount of $42,370. It is unclear how many separate wire transfers were made or how many accounts were involved.

East Hampton Town Police Capt. Chris Anderson said by phone on Monday the scam that targeted the Ross School is similar to one that has targeted other schools and institutions in the past.

“They’re all offshoots of one another. … It’s certainly not a new scam,” he said. “It’s a known scam.”

Significant portions of the police report were redacted, which Capt. Anderson said was due to the financially sensitive and personally identifiable information contained within.

He said the investigation is ongoing.

A Ross School representative said Monday the school is “thankful that the transfers were identified as fraudulent quickly and we did not suffer any financial loss as a result,” but declined to comment further, saying school officials do not comment on open investigations.