It's very rare I burst out laughing so early in the morning during show prep.  But a scam email almost had me fall out of the chair.

It was a very official-looking email, alerting me of a traffic citation issued.  Here is the message:

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Message intended for: Travis Lee

Mr./Ms. Lee, our traffic cameras recorded you running a red light on February 17, 2024. As such, you have been charged with a traffic citation.

You may contest this citation in court, or pay the fine online at You may do so no sooner than March 01, 2024, and no later than March 05, 2024.

Thank you for your attention,
Department of Transportation

Where was I again?

I looked at the calendar and the 17th was a Saturday.  What did I do on that Saturday?

Oh yeah, I was helping my family brand cattle.

The laughter started when I realized that from where I was on the ranch, the nearest traffic light is about 40 miles away.  Main street in Forsyth has only two stop signs with more on the side streets.  Oh, I take that back.  Frontage road has two lights that just flash red and yellow.

Just looking at the source email address, I knew right then this is a scam.  Montana Talks host Aaron Flint reminded me that traffic cameras are illegal in Montana.

Then we joked that maybe the steer or bull ran into the squeeze chute prematurely or shot outta there after branding finished.

Be Alert for Scams

Good Reader, your diligence is vital against email and phone scams.  They are out there in force.  Any official notice from an agency would come in the regular postal mail.  You can intuitively spot a scam email by their address.  It won't look right.  Mine came from  Huh?  That looks fishy.  Another red flag is misspellings or numbers substituted for letters, like     No matter what...


That link is a trap, to expose your computer to viruses and hacking.  Do not click on any link on any email you feel unsure about.  Your intuition will serve you well.  You can and should certainly contact the actual law enforcement or government agency to verify any notice.  And please report any scam email or phone call to authorities.

And please make sure you are obeying all those traffic laws when you are out in the Montana countryside, whether a gravel road or a cattle track.  And slow down for Livestock!

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