Clickability tracking pixel

Iowa State University Emails Targeted by Racist Cyberattack

Staff and students affiliated with Iowa State University were targeted by an email spam campaign from a sender claiming to be Equity Prime Mortgage. Officials say the email made reference to white supremacy and lynching.

by Robbie Sequeira, Ames Tribune / June 25, 2020
Iowa State University officials confirmed on Monday that nearly 4900 Iowa State university-affiliated email accounts were the recipients of a racist cyberattack from an email sender claiming to be Equity Prime Mortgage that made references to white supremacy and lynching. File Photo TNS

(TNS) — Iowa State University officials announced Monday that nearly 4,900 Iowa State University-affiliated email accounts were the recipients of a racist cyberattack from an email sender claiming to be Equity Prime Mortgage.

The email, according to officials, made references to white supremacy and lynching.

In a letter sent to the ISU community, the university said the cyberattack reached various university-affiliated email accounts, with a "vast majority" belonging to faculty and some to students. The Information Technology Services Department was able to remove 70% of the messages before they were opened and blocked the sender.

"We understand how upsetting this was for those who received the email, especially our Black colleagues and students. Iowa State University condemns this repugnant hate-filled message and the racism and white supremacy it aimed to spread," the letter said.

The email was received around Sunday afternoon, according to ISU's Chief of Police Michael Newton.

"These were spam emails that looked like they were coming from Equity Prime Mortgage," Newton said. "Luckily our folks through our Information Technology were able to intercept and make sure those weren't delivered to many of the intended recipients."

Though the university has dealt with spam emails in the past, Newton said these emails were "horrid, blatantly racist comments that are very inappropriate."

Iowa State University isn't the only university to receive these emails. In the letter, the the university said Harvard University and Stanford University have also received similar racially-charged emails from the sender claiming to be Equity Prime Mortgage.

The Tribune's attempt to reach the company on Monday were unsuccessful.

Equity Prime Mortgage is an Atlanta-based home mortgage lending company which recently made local news when they fired the stepmother of Garrett Rolfe, an ex-police officer charged with felony murder and 10 other criminal charges in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks outside of Wendy's last week.

Angela Hunt told the Tribune the university did not have any additional statements at this time.

Iowa State University police are working with the FBI to determine the identity of the sender of the emails.

©2020 the Ames Tribune, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Looking for the latest gov tech news as it happens? Subscribe to GT newsletters.

E.REPUBLIC Platforms & Programs