Beware of E-mail Scam: "I've been hired to kill you, it's one of your friends, I'm watching you..."

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

If you have an e-mail account, chances are you've received many types of phishing e-mails that offer huge amounts of money if you simply respond and give them additional personal or financial information or pay them a small sum of money now -for a promise of riches later. Now there is one claiming to be from a hit-man that is out to get you if you don't pay up!

The content of the emails vary, including the amount of money they demand. The messages often contain spelling and language errors and may include bits of personal information about you designed to grab your attention and instill fear. The hit-man claims that unless he's paid -he will carry out his threats. If you receive such e-mails don't reply. Rather, report them to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. Any e-mails that contain specific and personal information such as names or locations should be reported to local police.

ONLINE EXTORTION: E-Mail Scam Includes Hit-Man Threat

A new scam cropping up in e-mail boxes across the country is preying not on recipients' greed or good intentions, but on their fears. The scam e-mail, which first appeared in December, threatens to kill recipients if they do not pay thousands of dollars to the sender, who purports to be a hired assassin.

About 115 complaints have been filed with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) since the scam emerged, according to special agent John Hambrick, who heads IC3. He said the extortion scam does not appear to target anyone specifically and that IC3 has not received any reports of money loss or threats carried out.

"This is a hoax, so do yourself a favor and don't respond," Hambrick said.

Replying to the e-mails just sends a signal to senders that they've reached a live account. It also escalates the intimidation, Hambrick said.

In one case, a recipient responded that he wanted to be left alone and threatened to call authorities. The scammer, who was demanding an advance payment of $20,000, e-mailed back and reiterated the threat, this time with some personal details about the recipient--his work address, marital status, and daughter's full name. Then an ultimatum:


Bill Shore, a special agent who supervises the computer crime squad in the FBI's Pittsburgh field office, said recipients should not be overly spooked when scammers incorporate their intended victims' personal details in their schemes.

"Personal information is widely available," he said. "Even if a person does not use the Internet or own a computer, they could still be the victim of a computer crime such as identity theft."

The extortion scam is a less subtle variation of some other e-mail scams designed to trick recipients into turning over money or personal information. Nigerian Letter schemes, in which recipients are offered the "opportunity" to share in a percentage of millions of dollars if they would first front some of their own money, are among the most prolific, along with phishing scams where recipients are asked in unsolicited e-mails to "update" their personal information.

The new extortion e-mails vary in style and content and generally contain misspellings and some broken English. But the underlying message appears to be the same: pay the sender or risk the alternative. A scam e-mail in December said as much:

"I have followed you closely for one week and three days now ... Do not contact the police or F.B.I. or try to send a copy of this to them, because if you do I will know, and might be pushed to do what I have being (sic) paid to do."

A noted new twist in the scam.

E-mails are surfacing that claim to be from the FBI in London and inform recipients that an arrest was made in the case. The e-mail says the recipient's information was found on the suspect and that they should reply to help further the investigation. This, too, is a scam.


Washington Post: Latest E-Mail Scam Offers Reprieve -- at a Price -- From Killer-for-Hire

Manassas resident Jessica Walker, 28, got one of e-mails at work last week. The message told her that for $15,000, she could have audiotapes of conversations between the hit man and the person who wanted her killed.
Walker, a cash-management specialist at a Fairfax bank, called police, but she said the e-mail gave her pause.
"You sit there and start racking your brain and thinking, 'Who would want to do it?' " Walker said. "Say that e-mail went to 10,000 people. Five percent of people probably responded to it, if for no other reason than to ask what was going on." MORE

Keep up to date on the latest scams here.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

A memoir exposing the steep price consumers pay when facing mortgage servicing errors, inaccurate credit reporting, illegal debt collection practices, identity theft and weak consumer protection laws. THE BOOK » DENISE'S STORY »