FBI warns of new twists on twisted hitman, handgun and adoption scams

New twists on old scams are on the rise says FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center's (IC3) today issued a warning about new twists on some pretty twisted scams.

First up, the IC3 said the old Hitman Scam has morphed again in a nasty new way.  The Hitman extortion is now targeting nannies and day care providers.

FBI details most difficult Internet scams

With this scam, the fraudster contacts 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 hitman 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.

The second scam surrounds a website that victims reportedly used to transfer money for the sales of firearms; however, the website has not let them withdraw the funds after their merchandise was sold.

According to the IC3 the website claims to be a payment processor to be used as an alternative to other familiar online payment transfer services and was created to allow for the purchase of items that others of its kind do not allow such as firearms. The website encourages consumers to use their services by advertising that they send money to consumers or anyone with an email address, an individual can easily pay for anything using the web, and sign-up is free, quick, and easy.

The website appears to have been set up as a legitimate business but shortly after operations began, customers started experiencing funding delays. Ultimately, customers who received funds only received partial payments, and those payments were delayed by months, the IC3 stated. This scam appears to have become a Ponzi scheme with previous customers being paid by funds from new customers, the agency noted.

The last twisted scam the IC3 has been getting lots of complaints about is about fraudsters attempts to collect personal information and funds from individuals seeking to adopt a child. Victims reported responding to on-line advertisements for adoptions, such as "Baby Needs A Home." The operators of the site are fraudsters who claimed to have an overseas orphaned child in need of adoption. Preying on victims' emotions, the fraudsters explained how they promised to care for the child after the mother's death, the IC3 stated.

"The fraudsters said they were not affiliated with an adoption agency because no such agencies exist in their area. Nevertheless, they asked the victims to send pictures of their family and to complete forms that required personal information such as Social Security Number and their mother's maiden name. Fraudsters sent the victims a birth certificate and pictures of a child.

"One victim reported that the birth certificate appeared altered. Fraudsters told victims to send hundreds of dollars via money order, credit card, or wire transfer to a bank account for legal fees. The fraudsters claimed they would "ship" the child upon receipt of the funds. Instead, the fraudsters pocketed the money gained from the scam and provided no children for adoption," the IC3 stated.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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