Murder-Threat E-Mail Scam On the Rise In 2008
E-mail scam artists and spammers have relied for years on using offers that dangle quick riches in return for access to personal information and bank accounts, but now these messages may be taking a turn toward the threatening. Currently making the rounds of inboxes everywhere is a new scam e-mail that insinuates bodily harm, or even death, if the recipient doesn't fork over money.
This isn't the first time Switched.com has warned about this growing problem with scam e-mail, of course, but this new more intimidating threat seems to be growing larger. (Take a look at our "Top Five E-mail Scams" piece to learn more about how to identify fraudulent e-mail and how to protect yourself.)
As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, this new type of scam e-mail reads, in part, that the sender is "mailing you now ... just to KILL/ASSASINATE you and I have to do it as I have already been paid for that."
The e-mail continues to say that if payment is not made immediately, the sender will follow through on the threat without delay.
One of the threatening e-mails found its way to the e-mail inbox of an employee of the Post-Dispatch, who then forwarded it on to the FBI.
According to Special Agent Zachary Lowe, the scam first started appearing in 2006 and the messages are likely coming from overseas, possibly out of Eastern Europe. The first targets of the scam were white-collar workers, like doctors and lawyers, whose e-mail addresses are easy to find in ads or directories. Lowe says the threat isn't real.
As noted in the Post-Dispatch article, "This is just a new type of fraud."
The old style of scam e-mail was typically an invitation to a business opportunity or to collect lottery winnings. This new kind of scam has the same goal, just a different, and more serious, message.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.