“You have been targeted for assassination.” Latest Hit Man scam takes a darker tone

FBI/IC3 says Hit man extortion scam has morphed over the years targeting millions of victims

The scabs that keep the online Hit Man swindle running must get together every month and decide what sort of inane but scary threat will keep the scam "fresh."

This week the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) said it has received new complaints of a new twist to the Hit Man scam that finds the victims this time told via e-mails they have been targeted for assassination.  The e-mail goes on to tell them they need to buy a security alarm to use if they see suspicious activity.

The e-mails were signed by Agent Bauer [presumably of TV's "24" fame] of the International Intelligence Bureau and included the following language:

"You have been targeted for assassination over a past legal financial matters. A hired international assassin has been hired to kill you. All information and concrete evidence will be forwarded to you, but that should be after the apprehension of the assassin. Please do not disclose this information to any body, including any other enforcement personal in your region. Our effort to trap him might be jeopadise [sic], if our strategies are expose by other enforcement agencies behind this crime. From this moment see anybody as somebody that wants to kill you. The private international investigator tracking the assassin, wants you to purchase our device security alarm, as you are expected to press the device alarm if you suspect any activities . We can come to your rescue through any of our attached security personel[sic], and this is possible within our network close to you in less than 10 minutes.  Please try to cooperate with us. We wait to hear from you."

While most people know such an email is a hoax, the scammers obviously find enough people to respond to keel the scam going.

MORE: The 10 most common mobile security problems and how you can fight them

In 2010, the IC3 noted another twist in the old Hit man extortion that targeted nannies and daycare providers.

With this scam, the fraudster contacted the potential victims via email claiming their team was hired by a friend of the victim to "terminate" them. The fraudster demands amounts ranging from $150,000 to $250,000 to call off the hit and claims he will hand over a tape containing evidence as to who hired him once the amount is paid. The recipient is threatened with murder and the kidnapping of the children in their care if they fail to comply, the IC3 stated.

The majority of the victims had some affiliation with a nanny position and speculated that the fraudster must have obtained their contact information through an online classified ad offering their services as nannies. Others stated they had advertised online that they were seeking a nanny, while one victim was reportedly a day care worker, the IC3 stated.

The Hit Man scammer who threatens to kill recipients if they do not pay thousands of dollars to the sender, has sent out thousands of emails since about 2008, the FBI stated. The initial variant told 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 threatened bodily harm if the ransom was not received within 30 minutes of the time frame given.

The recipients' personally identifiable information was included in the e-mail to promote that appearance that the sender actually knew the recipient and their location, the FBI said. In some instances, the use of names, titles, addresses, and telephone numbers of government officials, business executives and/or victims' personal information are used in an attempt to make the fraud appear more authentic, the FBI stated.

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