Hitman Emails: Scams or Urban Legends?

Get the latest info on the hitman email and avoid getting conned: Internet ScamBusters #224

Today we deal with Hitman emails: threats of murder claiming that a hitman has been hired to kill you, but won’t if you pay a large fee so they don’t carry out their contract.

These Hitman emails have surfaced in the past few months and are now starting to become popular. They are very scary and few people know about them.

We’ll tell you whether these Hitman emails are scams or urban legends, how they work, the newest identity theft variant and what to do if you receive one.

We’ll also tell you about the most interesting findings from the FBI’s new Internet Crime Report, which contains some very important info on computer crime.

Hitman Emails: Scams or Urban Legends?

In December 2006, we started seeing emails in which scammers claim they are “hitmen” who have been hired to kill you, but that they won’t carry out their contract if you’ll pay them a (large) fee.

Here is an example of a popular Hitman email going around:

— Begin Hitman email (Includes many uncorrected typos) —

Good Day,

I want you to read this message very crefully, and keep the secret with you till further notice, You have no need of knowing who i am, where am from,till i make out a space for us to see, i have being paid $50,000.00 in adbance to terminate you with some reasons listed to me by my employer,its one i believe you call a friend,i have followed you closely for one week and three days now and have seen that you are innocent of the accusation,

Do not contact the police or F.B.I or try to send a copy of this to them, because if you do i will know, and might be pushed to do what i have being paid to do,beside this is the first time i turned out to be a betrayer in my job.

Now listen,i will arrange for us to see face to face but before that i need the amount of $80,000.00 and you will have nothing to be afraid of.I will be coming to see you in your office or home dtermine where you wish we meet,do not set any camera to cover us or set up any tape to record our conversation,my employer is in my control now,

You will need to pay $20,000.00 to the account i will provide for you, before we will set our first meeting,after you have make the first advance payment to the account,i will give you the tape that contains his request for me to terminate you, which will be enough evidence for you to take him to court(if you wish to), then the balance will be paid later.

You don’t need my phone contact for now till am assured you are ready to comply good.

Lucky You.

— End Hitman email —

Is this email true, a scam or an urban legend?

This is an extortion scam that attempts to get you to pay large fees. These Hitman emails are sent out in bulk — which means that no one really has paid scammers to kill you.

So, the extortion attempt is real; the threat against your life is not.

In other words, you do NOT need to pay off a hitman. 😉

We’ve seen the amount of money the scammer asks for not to kill you vary from $50,000 to $150,000; however, new versions may well have different amounts.

Further, a new variant of this Hitman scam surfaced in January that seems more focused on identity theft. These email scams are supposedly from the FBI in London. They claim that:

  • “An individual was recently arrested for the murders of several United States and United Kingdom citizens in relation to this matter.
  • “The recipient’s information was found on the subject identifying the recipient as the next victim.
  • “The recipient is requested to contact the FBI in London to assist with the investigation.”

This variant seems more geared toward identity theft, and asks for personal information from the victim to “help” the FBI.

Unfortunately, all of these emails can be very scary, and it isn’t hard to imagine people getting conned.

Action: If you receive a Hitman email, don’t panic. It’s most likely bogus. Don’t send money and don’t give any personal or financial information.

Next, read the email a few times to see if it seems like it is specific to you, or does it look like it easily could have been emailed to millions of unsuspecting potential victims?

For example, does the email use your name, address, phone number, family members’ names, and several other specific things that show the information is truly about you? If the email contains significant information that is specific to you, call your local police and report it to the FBI.

If there is little in the email to make you believe that the email is unique to you, simply delete the email. Or you can report it to the police anyway, but tell them it is probably a scam.

Findings From the 2006 Internet Crime Report

Earlier this month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released their 2006 Internet Crime Report. It’s interesting that the Hitman emails are included in this report.

That’s a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!