HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County officials are warning customers to be on the lookout for a scheme.

They say some customers have received phishing emails claiming their utility payments have been declined

The victims are then directed to click on a link to make sure services aren’t canceled. That link is a spoofed website attempting to collect personal information.

John Tsouris got the email Monday night and knew something wasn’t right.

“It immediately set off red flags because I have automatic payments, there’s plenty of money there,” Tsouris said.

He started poking around and found out the email, which came from Iceland, wasn’t legit.

“It asks for username and password, looks like the county’s website, you put that info in, I’m sure it’ll take anything you put in, then it took you to another page which tried to download a Trojan virus,” Tsouris said.

Tom Hyslip is an Assistant Professor of Instruction with the Department of Criminology at the University of South Florida. He says these types of schemes are on an upward trend.

“They’re hoping you’re not paying attention, you just click the link give them info and move on,” Hyslip said. “Now you have the Ukraine, Russia war, the Russians will try to sow discord in the U.S. and they can do it with hackers and cyber attacks.”

Tsouris dodged a bullet, but he’s worried others may not catch on as quickly.

“I’m on top of it, wasn’t shocking to me, but it isn’t a pleasant feeling, many people are in the county, a lot of people will get exposed to this it’ll be a mess,” Tsouris said.

Hillsborough County says if you receive a payment declined email that appears to come from Hillsborough County, you should delete it and not click on any embedded links.

Connect to the County’s bill pay portal directly here or by phone at (813) 276-8526 to check your account status.

If you may have acted on a suspected fraudulent email, you should immediately change your account password and contact our Public Utilities Customer Call Center at (813) 272-6680 to report that your account may have been compromised.