Claim: "Hitmen" who have been hired to kill you change their minds — for a fee.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
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.
[Collected via e-mail, 2007]
I am pleased to inform you that we have been paid to assassinate you by your co-worker in your office. I want you to listen very carefully about your safety and do not, i repeat, do not try in anyway doing anything funny in otherwords, trying to inform any security agent because this is our business, and we know how to do it best.
We have our network all over the world.In order not to endanger your life the more you are advice to co-operate with us to know if we can change our initial plan to assassinate you. Once you are in receipt of this message, i will like you to get back to us immediately as delay is dangerous.
I wait to hear from you on this matter within the next 24 hours and that is if you appreciate and love your existence. Please do not in anyway communicate this or discuss this with anybody because you wouldn't know whom you are talking with. OUR WATCH-DOG ARE ON YOU. DO NOT MAKE ANY MISTAKE.
GOD BE WITH YOU,GOOD LUCK!!!.
[Collected via e-mail, May 2008]
SOMEONE YOU CALL YOUR FRIEND, WANTS YOU DEAD.
I felt very sorry and bad for you, that your life is going to end like this if you don't comply, i was paid to eliminate you and I have to do it within 10 days.
Someone you call your friend wants you dead by all means, and the person have spent a lot of money on this, the person also came to us and told us that he wants you dead and he provided us your names, photograph and other necessary information we needed about you. If you are in doubt with this I will send you your name and where you are residing in my next mail.
Meanwhile, I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation, but I ordered them to stop for a while and not to strike immediately because I just felt something good and sympathetic about you. I decided to contact you first and know why somebody will want you dead by all means. Right now my men are monitoring you, their eyes are on you, and even the place you think is safer for you to hide might not be.
Now do you want to LIVE OR DIE? It is up to you. Get back to me now if you are ready to enter deal with me, I mean life trade, who knows, and I might just spear your life, $8,000 is all you need to spend. You will first of all pay $3,000 then I will send the tape of the person that want you dead to you and when the tape gets to you, you will pay the remaining $5,000. If you are not ready for my help, then I will have no choice but to carry on the assignment after all I have already being paid before now.
Warning: do not think of contacting the police or even tell anyone because I will extend it to any member of your family since you are aware that somebody want you dead, and the person knows some members of your family as well.
For your own good I will advise you not to go out once is 7pm until I make out time to see you and give you the tape of my discussion with the person who want you dead then you can use it to take any legal action. Good luck as I await your reply to this e-mail contact: email@example.com
Origin:In December 2006, an extortion attempt that appears to have originated in Russia began appearing in some inboxes. It purports to be from an assassin engaged by someone of the recipient's acquaintance and offers to call off the "hit" in return for payment of $50,000, $80,000, $100,000, even $150,000. The scammer states he has been stalking the target for 10 days and demands an immediate response to his proposal. He also threatens to carry out his contract if the victim goes to the police.
Fear not: It's all a scam. There is no such plot in place, no hitman who needs to be paid off. Numerous folks have received the same e-mail, so anyone who has had it land in his inbox need not fret he is being hunted by a hired killer. It's a con, nothing more. The only thing at risk are the contents of the target's bank account.
Says Special Agent Wendy A. Osborne of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Indianapolis office, "We have no reason to believe these threats are legitimate. There are misspellings and grammar errors in the e-mails that lead us to believe it originates from overseas."
In December 2006, on its New E-Scams & Warnings web page, the FBI issued the following alert:
We have recently received information concerning spam e-mails threatening to assassinate the recipient unless the individual pays several thousand dollars to the sender of the e-mail.
The subject claims to have been following the victim for some time and was supposedly hired to kill the victim by a friend of the victim. The subject threatens to carry out the assassination if the victim goes to the police and requests the victim to respond quickly and provide their telephone number.
Warning! Providing any personal information can compromise your identify and open you to identity theft.
If you have experienced this situation, please notify your local, state, or federal law enforcement agency immediately. Also, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
In January 2007, the Bureau added this update to its earlier warning:
There is a new twist to the IC3 alert posted on December 7, 2006 regarding e-mails claiming that the sender has been paid to kill the recipient and will cancel the contract on the recipient's life if that person pays a large sum of money. Now e-mails are surfacing that claim to be from the FBI in London. These e-mails note the following information:
- 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.
- It is not uncommon for an Internet fraud scheme to have the same overall intent but be transmitted containing variations in the e-mail content, e.g., different names, e-mail addresses, and/or agencies reportedly involved.
Please note, providing any personal information in response to an unsolicited e-mail can compromise your identity and open you to identity theft.
If you have experienced this situation please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
Due to the threat of violence inherent in these extortion e-mails, if you receive an e-mail that contains personally identifiable information that might differentiate your e-mail from the general e-mail spam campaign, we encourage you to contact the police.
By June 2008, the scam was appearing in a new part of the world and in a new form. Cell phone users in Australia found anonymous text messages like this show up on their units:
Someone paid me to kill you. If you want me to spare you, I'll give you two days to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, you will die. I am monitoring you.
One final note for those who've received such missives: Before allowing yourself to be spun into a panic by the idea that someone has been set on your trail with orders to kill you, take a few deep breaths and re-read the e-mail, this time looking for any indications that its sender knows anything about you. Are you addressed by name? Does the sender mention a location you frequent as one of the places he's followed you? Does he demonstrate that he knows your address or your phone number? Does he name your place of business? Does he mention any of your family members by name?
If you find such indications, contact your local police to turn the matter over to them. If, however, nothing in the threat indicates the sender knows anything about you, discard the e-mail and worry not.
Barbara "the only hit being contemplated is upon your wallet" Mikkelson
Last updated: 16 May 2016
Originally published: 14 January 2007
Kawamoto, Dawn. "FBI Warns of Twist in Extortion Phishing Scam."
CNET News.com. 12 January 2007.
Rivoli, Jonathan. "A New Twist to an Old Scam."
Bismarck Tribune. 13 January 2007.
Ryckaert, Vic. "'Hit Man' Extortion Scam Appearing in Hoosier Inboxes."
Richmond Times Dispatch. 11 January 2007.
Thomson, Chris. "Bada-boom Spam: Hitman SMS Alert."
The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 July 2008.