Scam: Con artists present themselves as "hitmen" already hired by others to kill you, then extort payment to not carry out the contract.
In December 2006, an extortion attempt that appears to have originated in Russia began appearing in
some inboxes. It purports to be from an assassin engaged by someone of the recipient's acquaintance and offers to call off the "hit" in return for payment of $50,000, $80,000, $100,000, even $150,000. The scammer states he has been stalking the target for 10 days and demands an immediate response to his proposal. He also threatens to carry out his contract if the victim goes to the police.
Fear not: It's all a scam. There is no such plot in place, no hitman who needs to be paid off. Numerous folks have received the same e-mail, so anyone who has had it land in his inbox need not fret he is being hunted by a hired killer. It's a con, nothing more. The only thing at risk are the contents of the target's bank account.
Says Special Agent Wendy A. Osborne of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Indianapolis office, "We have no reason to believe these threats are legitimate. There are misspellings and grammar errors in the e-mails that lead us to believe it originates from overseas."
In December 2006, on its New E-Scams & Warnings web page, the FBI issued the following alert:
We have recently received information concerning spam e-mails threatening to assassinate the recipient unless the individual pays several thousand dollars to the sender of the e-mail.
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.
Warning! Providing any personal information can compromise your identify and open you to identity theft.
If you have experienced this situation, please notify your local, state, or federal law enforcement agency immediately. Also, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
One final note for those who've received such missives: Before allowing yourself to be spun into a panic by the idea that someone has been set on your trail with orders to kill you, take a few deep breaths and re-read the e-mail, this time looking for any indications that its sender knows anything about you. Are you addressed by name? Does the sender mention a location you frequent as one of the places he's followed you? Does he demonstrate that he knows your address or your phone number? Does he name your place of business? Does he mention any of your family members by name?
If you find such indications, contact your local police to turn the matter over to them. If, however, nothing in the threat indicates the sender knows anything about you, discard the e-mail and worry not.