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Hit Man by Email Scam Persists
The FBI continues to receive thousands of reports of emails claiming the sender has been hired to kill the recipient. The e-mail has evolved into several variations since it was first discovered in late 2006 but continues the same attempt to extort money and information from the recipient under threat of violence.
In 2006 the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received information concerning spam e-mails threatening to assassinate the recipient unless the recipient pays several thousand dollars to the sender of the email. The subject claims to have been following the victim for some time and was supposedly hired to kill the victim by a friend of the victim. The subject threatens to carry out the assassination if the victim goes to the police and requests the victim to respond quickly and provide their telephone number.
In 2007 the FBI reported that a variation of this scam surfaced with e-mails which claim to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in London. These e-mails note the following information:
- An individual was recently arrested for the murders of several United States and United Kingdom citizens in relation to this matter.
- The recipient's information was found on the subject identifying the recipient as the next victim.
- The recipient was requested to contact the FBI in London to assist with the investigation.
Two new versions of the scheme began appearing in July 2008. One instructed the recipient to contact a telephone number contained in the e-mail and the other claimed the recipient or a “loved one” was going to be kidnapped unless a ransom was paid. Recipients of the kidnapping threat were told to respond via e-mail within 48 hours.
The sender was to provide the location of the wire transfer five minutes before the deadline and was threatened with bodily harm if the ransom was not received within 30 minutes of the time frame given. The recipients’ personally identifiable information (PII) was included in the e-mail to promote the appearance that the sender actually knew the recipient and their location.
Perpetrators of Internet crimes often use fictitious names, addresses, telephone numbers, and threats or warnings regarding the failure to comply to further their schemes.
In some instances, the use of names, titles, addresses, and telephone numbers of government officials and business executives, and/or the victims’ are used in an attempt to make the fraud appear more authentic.
Unfortunately, these hit man e-mail scams are still circulating and evolving throughout the Internet.
Don’t get ‘knocked off’ by these cyber criminals who are trying everything they can to access your money and personal information. The FBI is asking everyone to protect yourself by reporting emails to the FBI through the IC3 at www.IC3.gov.
Please note, providing any personal information in response to an unsolicited e-mail can compromise your identity and open you to all types of identity theft.
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