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Conover Police Department is investigating a malicious email and spread of false information regarding a phony July 4 event at Conover City Park, according to Lt. Robert Clark.

The email held a press release about a “Nazareth Child and Family’s Independence Day celebration” to be held at Conover City Park Thursday at 6 p.m. The event is not happening, nor was it ever going to happen, according to Conover City Manager Donald Duncan.

“Details are still coming in, but this looks like an orchestrated spear phishing/social engineering attack that involved phone calls and emails,” Duncan said. “These appear to be real and even going as far as issuing official press releases, and stealing identities.”

The email was sent to The Observer News Enterprise newspaper in Newton, according to Clark, and the event information was published in their July 2 edition.

According to the July 2 edition of The Observer News Enterprise, the event was advertised to benefit Catawba County’s Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center, to host well-known band Donna the Buffalo and to be held at Conover’s recently finished Norman Coley Amphitheater. Games, fireworks and a 10-foot-tall Uncle Sam are just some of the fun happenings that were never scheduled.

“We are not sure of the intent or the target, but it seems this is at least a diversion, or an attempt at a cyber hack, or worse, an attempt to gather a crowd for a free event to then do harm,” Duncan said.

Lt. Clark plans to have police patrolling Conover City Park and the surrounding area on Thursday.

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