I receive a lot of spam; it's a side-effect of my email being prominently displayed on this website and others and apparently being harvested regularly for spam lists. Our IT team is generally quite good about identifying regular spam messages and filter those out, but new spam formats sometimes make it through. Here's the spam scam message I received this morning:
From: Brown [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2011 10:53 AM
Subject: LIVE OR DIE
Hi your life is in danger, somebody is planing to get rid of you and your job is given to me and my group and I have asked my self that why will this man will want to kill you well I do not know but just go and sit your self down and think of what you have done wrong but all I know is you are going to die very soon, sit down and think maybe you can make some amendment from your friend who want your dead
YOU CAN JUST CONTACT ME BACK BEFORE IT WILL BE TOO LATE BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN PAID TO TAKE YOUR LIFE AND YOUR MOVEMENT HAVE BEEN MONITORING BY TWO OF MY BOYS YOU CAN SAVE YOUR SELF BY DETECTING THAT MAN THAT WANT YOU DEATH AND BEG HIM OK I DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE DONE FOR HIM OK, BUT NO MERCY.
I've done some research on these, and this apparently is a new approach that spammers are using in terms of creating confidence scams, with the goal of having the recipient send money to an untraceable account to call off the supposed hit man. NPR has a great story about how this played out when the scammer/spammer sent this type of threat to a woman whose husband was a police officer.
Although these scams have not been prevalent, they have landed on the radar of the FBI, which released this information 2-1/2 years ago about such scams:
Hit Man E-Mail Scam Returns
08/28/08—The IC3 continues to receive thousands of reports concerning the hit man e-mail scheme. The e-mail content has evolved since late 2006; however, the messages remain similar in nature, claiming the sender has been hired to kill the recipient.
Two new versions of the scheme began appearing in July 2008. One instructed 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 was threatened with bodily harm if the ransom was not received within 30 minutes of the time frame given. The recipients’ personally identifiable information (PII) was included in the e-mail to promote the appearance that the sender actually knew the recipient and their location.
Perpetrators of Internet crimes often use fictitious names, addresses, telephone numbers, and threats or warnings regarding the failure to comply to further their schemes.
In some instances, the use of names, titles, addresses, and telephone numbers of government officials and business executives, and/or the victims’ PII are used in an attempt to make the fraud appear more authentic.
Below are links for the two previous public service announcements published by the IC3 concerning the hit man scheme:
Consumers always need to be alert to unsolicited e-mails. Do not open unsolicited e-mails or click on any embedded links, as they may contain viruses or malware. Providing your PII will compromise your identity!
Individuals who receive e-mails containing threats of violence and their PII are encouraged to contact law enforcement as well as file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
As for me, I'm thinking I'll write him back to let him know that I'm an overworked, stressed security industry journalist who is paid up on his life insurance policy and that I'm probably worth more dead than alive...