Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Brandywine residents scammed out of hundreds of dollars amidst fraudulent emails

Tenants received fraudulent email requesting rent and deposit money be sent through
Abby Joyce

This past week, a security breach occurred within the rent submission system for Brandywine Apartments in Amherst. Multiple tenants were sent fraudulent emails instructing them to pay rent through Zelle, resulting in their rent and deposit money being stolen.

President of Snow Asset Management Inc. Erica Snow Arbron said in a statement that she was notified by one of the residents.

“While we continue to investigate how the breach occurred, it appears that the email account of one of our staff members was compromised, which allowed this event to occur,” Arbron said.

Zelle is an online money transfer service similar to Venmo or CashApp. Any payments made through the service cannot be canceled if the recipient is enrolled in Zelle.

While a security breach did occur, Arbron reassured residents that no other data had been exposed.

According to the incident report from the Amherst Police Department (APD), one tenant reported that, “she got scammed out of $400 as a deposit for an apartment at Brandywine.”

Snow Asset Management identified and contacted tenants to warn them of this message. An email from Brandywine management to tenants stated that payment has never been accepted through online cash apps. “If you receive an email from us asking you to pay this way, please do not do so. This is a scam!! If you have made a rent payment recently with an online cash app, please let us know as well as call the police.”

According to an APD dispatch log, four victims were documented as of the latest report. APD Temporary Chief Gabriel Ting said that the case is under investigation.

Arbron said that a credit to each victim’s account was offered for their stolen money. “We did not have to do this, but our company’s ethical values are to go the extra mile to help our residents.”

Arbron advised, “We urge people to be careful when sending funds through these apps to their friends, businesses and others. Even when you think you know the person, you might not, it is always wise to check ahead of time via a different way of communication that the person is the one requesting the money.”

Snow Asset Management also explained that they have been working closely with their IT specialists for “enhanced protections.” “Though we have very strong safeguards in place, unfortunately no system is immune from all security risks,” Arbron said.

This is an ongoing story.

Abby Joyce can be reached at [email protected]. Jack Underhill can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X @JackUnderhill16.

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