FBI warns: Hitman scam back with a vengeance

The online Hitman scammer who threatens to kill recipients if they do not pay thousands of dollars to the sender, is back and the FBI is warning users to ignore the spam and report any incidents to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. 

The FBI said it's receiving numerous complaints from users in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming  The Hitman scam has also been reported in Washington, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan since January.

The scam e-mail, which first appeared in December 2006, purports to be a hired assassin, but is in reality a mass spamming looking to grab your personal information. Replying to the e-mails just sends a signal to senders that they’ve reached a live account. It also escalates the intimidation, the FBI said in a report last year.

In one case, a recipient responded that he wanted to be left alone and threatened to call authorities. The scammer, who was demanding an advance payment of $20,000, e-mailed back and reiterated 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!!!”

The IC3 last year noted a noted a twist in the scam: e-mails that claim to be from the FBI in London and inform recipients that an arrest was made in the case. The e-mail says 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 FBI said.

The IC3 in January raised a red flag saying it has received multiple reports on different variations of a scheme known as voice phishing or vishing.  Vishing attacks against US financial institutions and consumers continue to rise at an alarming rate and a new vishing technique is also growing, the IC3 stated.  In the new scenario text messages are sent to cell phones claiming the recipient's on-line bank account has expired. The message instructs the recipient to renew their on-line bank account by using the link provided.  

The FBI late last year issued a pair of alerts warning users to be on the lookout for a couple email scams making the rounds. The first is an oldie but a goodie.  Fraudulent emails from the United States Department of State are being distributed claiming to have verified an inheritance from another country belonging to the victim. To make these emails appear legitimate, they contain information taken from the Department of State's website.

The second alert has a whiff of the old Nigerian email scam.  This one comes from Amando M. Tetangco, the Governot of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, (Central Bank of the Philippines). The sender claims the recipient is the beneficiary of a large sum of money, free of any liens or encumbrances.  

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