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Security & privacy

Convincing terrorist scam is spreading

Scams come in many shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: tricking you into parting with your hard earned cash. Fraudsters usually resort to deception, but sometimes, they’ll try terror and fear tactics. Tap or click here to see the top 6 worst scams spreading around the internet.

When scammers try to bully or intimidate you into following their demands, they’ll usually try to do so from a place of authority. This means impersonating a police officer, lawyer or even the government.

And that’s exactly what you’ll find in a scary new scam making the rounds across the web and real-world mailboxes. Victims receive threatening letters claiming they’ve been caught red-handed for money laundering and terrorist sympathies — with ransom demands to follow. We’ll show you how to spot the frauds.

Delivering fear across the country

According to new reports from BleepingComputer, the FTC is alerting U.S. residents of an active scam campaign targeting mailboxes and email inboxes across the country. Victims receive official looking emails or physical letters claiming they’ve been “caught” supporting terrorists or laundering money.

The letters stop short of asking for specific payments, but some provide information to “contact” the scammers, while other instances had a “ransom call” follow afterwards.

According to FTC Operations Associate Director Monica Vaca, “… scammers have been faking official-looking letterhead to write scary messages to people, threatening them. But, again: it’s not real.”

This scam, among others, is discussed on the FTC’s website, which goes over several of the most common impostor scam campaigns in circulation. Tap or click here to learn more about scammers impersonating the IRS.

How can I spot the scam before it’s too late?

The FTC has highlighted several red flags to be mindful of when you get a threatening letter or email claiming to be from the government. If you know for a fact you haven’t done anything wrong, you’re usually in the clear. But just in case, here’s what the FTC is advising:

The FTC will never send a letter like this, and we’ll never threaten you.

Federal Trade Commission, 2019
  • The FTC does write back to people who write to us, and we sometimes send letters about a refund from a case – but then, we’ll never ask you to pay anything or give personal info to collect your funds. (Find more about FTC refunds at
  • No government agency will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wiring money, or bitcoin. Anyone who does that is a scammer. Full stop.

So there you have it. The next time you get a threatening letter from the government, you might want to think twice before taking it seriously. Of course, if you’re not 100% sure, you can always call the FTC’s Consumer Response Center at 1-877-382-4357 for more information.

Knowing the nature of scams is the best way to fight back. If a scammer can’t trick you in the first place, they’re not much of a scammer at all, are they?

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