Justice Department Acknowledges Sending Hoax Emails

February 2, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The U.S. Department of Justice, usually responsible for prosecuting those who send hoax emails, has now become the hoaxer.

The Associated Press reports the email, signed by “Thrift Savings Plan Account Coordinator,” was sent two weeks ago and directed Justice Department employees to a Web site and asked them to plug in account information by January 31.

According to the AP, on Wednesday, a memo was circulated by Ted Shelkey, assistant director for information systems security, explaining that the savings plan email was a hoax. “We have learned that the messages are part of a hoax invented and distributed by DOJ to test employee security awareness,” Shelkey wrote.

Shelkey said the message and the site purported to be the bailout Web site are not malicious, and there was no need to send warning messages to colleagues and law enforcement contacts. The memo instructed employees to “delete all such messages and associated alerts.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona called the phony email a security test.

Thrift Savings Plan participants were victims of a real email hoax in March 2006, leading officials to take steps to enhance security (see TSP Takes New Measure to Enhance Data Security ).