I was recently informed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that someone is out to scare people into handing over their hard earned cash. Imagine receiving an email that looks something like this:
“WHAT YOU WILL DO NOW IS TELL ME THAT YOU ARE READY TO MAKE MY ADVANCE PAYMENT OF $20K THEN I WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH THE ACCOUNT THAT YOU WILL NEED TO SWIFT THE MONEY, AFTER THAT I WILL THEN ARRANGE A MEETING WITH YOU AND GIVE YOU ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEEDED AS A PROVE,ABOUT THE PERSON THAT IS PLANNING TO KILL YOU, WHICH YOU MAY TAKE AS YOUR FRIEND. AFTER THIS, I WILL LEAVE STATE BECAUSE THE PERSON WILL SEND SOME MEN AFTER MY LIFE.
TELL ME NOW ARE YOU READY TO DO WHAT I SAID OR DO YOU WANT ME TO PROCEED WITH MY JOB? ANSWER YES/NO AND DONT ASK ANY QUESTIONS!!!”
This new “scam” is popping up in inboxes all across the country, not doing what the notorious “Nigerian Scam” does – preying on the recipients’ greed or good intentions, but on their fears. This email initially came to surface in December, and now has had about 115 complaints filed against it with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The scammer, who is putting himself off to be an assassin, threatens to kill recipients if they don’t cooperate and pay thousands of dollars. John Hambrick, Special Agent who heads IC3, said that 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. Responding to one of these emails just sends a signal to senders that they’ve reached a live account and also escalates the intimidation.
There was one case in which a recipient responded that he wanted to be left alone and threatened to call authorities. The scammer emailed back and repeated the threat, this time with some personal details about the recipient – his work address, marital status, and daughter’s full name. Then, an ultimatum.
“TELL ME NOW ARE YOU READY TO DO WHAT I SAID OR DO YOU WANT ME TO PROCEED WITH MY JOB? ANSWER YES/NO AND DON’T ASK ANY QUESTIONS!!!”
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.”
These new extortion emails vary in style and content and generally contain misspellings and some broken English. But the principal always appears to be the same: pay the sender or be KILLED! A scam email in December said this:
“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’ve being (sic) paid to do.”
IC3 freshly communicated a new “twist” in the scam. Now e-mails are evolving that claim to be from the FBI in London and inform recipients that an arrest was actually made in the case and that the recipient’s information was found on the suspect and that they should reply to help further the investigation. THIS, TOO, IS A SCAM!
The scams, agent Shore said, “are an opportunity to raise awareness about Internet fraud.” The best defense is to protect your personal information as best you can and to delete-unopened-unsolicited SPAM e-mail.”