We know Komando readers are smart enough to recognize an email extortion scam when you see one, but we still share them you, because we want you to know how crafty, devious — and, in this case, bizarre — extortion emailers can get. Scroll down for tips on how to recognize extortion emails and what to do if you suspect you've received one (Hint: Most of the time you can just ignore it.).
Extortion scams come in different forms and scenarios but they all have one thing in common: They try to scare you into ponying up your hard-earned cash.
Who can forget the sextortion email scam that claims that someone has video evidence of your "intimate" web browsing sessions? It may sound far-fetched but, believe it or not, people fall for it.
This hit man extortion scam is far out
This latest hit man extortion scam, as reported by Bleeping Computer, threatens recipients with their lives. The recipient just has to send 4,000 in bitcoin to call off the hit man.
Image Credit: Bleeping Computer
These types of email scams are nothing new. The FBI reported a hit man extortion scheme in 2007, and Snopes made a similar report in 2016. This latest version takes it to a new level: If you pay the 4,000 bitcoin, not only will they call off the hit man, but they'll take him out on your behalf. It's a buy-one-get-one!
If you receive any email from an unknown sender, look for these clues that it's a scam that you can safely ignore:
- The message is full of grammatical and spelling errors.
- The sender never directly addresses you by name.
- There is a sense of urgency (which begs the question, "Why use email?").
- They're asking for personal information, like your credit card, bank or other personal information.
What to do if you've received a hit man extortion email
Between its almost unintelligible text and its absurd claims, I would certainly hope that potential victims would spot this hit man email extortion scheme from a mile away.
The good news is, it looks like no one's biting. Bleeping Computer reported that the bitcoin payment address has not logged any payments as of this writing.
If you receive this email, don't reply to the message and, this goes without saying, never pay the "ransom." Don't click links in the message, and definitely do not download any attachments. Delete the message, or archive it under "extortion spam" for future reference.
Because this is a threatening message, and if you have serious concerns that something like this might be for real, the FBI advises that you report this to the local police using a non-emergency number. You can also file a report with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
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