The Essex County Fair will be held Aug. 8-12.
Bertha Rand is in perfect health, and has not stepped foot in Spain recently.
The Essex County Fair website and email address are one of the most recently known cases of a cyber-hack, where hackers break into websites, email accounts and Facebook pages.
The goal of the hacks is to send out requests for money, often stating that the victim of the hack went on an impromptu vacation, got in trouble and now needs cash in order to get back.
Such was the case with an email sent out by the fair’s account (firstname.lastname@example.org) July 18, saying that it was from fair secretary Bertha Rand and reading as follows (the text is not edited):
“I hope my mail get to you in good health?, I made a trip to Madrid Spain just for a short vacation tour but, it all ended ugly, I had an accident of which I dislocated my right arm and my head got bruised. The driver of the cab passed on due to internal bleeding and the injuries he sustained on his head.
“I have not been able to reach any one due to the fact that I misplaced my mobile phone during the incident. Thank goodness, I'm safe. presently in the hospital, due to the injuries I sustained. I need your urgent assistance to enable me get out of here. I will be very grateful if you will be able to assist me financially I promise to refund your money as soon as i get back home
“Regards, Awaiting your response.
Fair manager Jim Westover said the fair office phone was ringing non-stop after the email was sent out.
“I had about 20 phone calls yesterday about it,” Westover said. “I told them I saw her the day before and she wasn’t in Spain.”
Authorities said that those who called the fair office did the right thing, and that anyone who receives an email or Facebook post similar to this should be suspicious.
“We recommend that people do not respond to any of the web posts or emails,” Essex County Undersheriff Michael Badger said. “You should call the family as opposed to trying to do something over the Internet.”
Badger said that when people take a minute to really think about the email, they usually really that it is a hacker’s work “99.9 percent of the time.”
“Who would send, or be able to send, an email if they were overseas and locked up or in trouble?” Badger said.
Fair webmaster Lyn Lobdell said that the website was hacked earlier in the month, but that the security and passwords to the site had been changed and should now be secure.
“With the email, they created an account where the address had two i’s in the word fair (countyfaiirfun instead of countyfairfun), so people would glance right over and not notice it,” he said.
Rand, who spoke with The Valley News from her home in Elizabethtown (not a hospital in Spain), added that the fair planned to keep the email address the same through the end of the Aug. 8-12 annual events.
“There are so many people using the address right now to prepare for the fair that we are going to try and keep it the same at least until the fair is over,” Rand said. “If we are still having problems, though, we will change it before then.”