Scammers use all kinds of tricks to get your money and your personal information.
They tell you that you’ve won a prize and you need to pre-pay taxes or fees to collect. Or that a loved one has gotten into trouble and they need you to pay bail money or a hospital bill. Or that you owe money to the IRS, and if you don’t pay immediately, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
These are all awful attempts to take your money, but they’re not as scary as one scam that threatens your life.
It starts when you receive an email or a text from someone claiming to be a professional assassin who has been hired to kill you.
But the hitman, after following you for a few days, has decided you’re really a good person and you don’t deserve to die. You didn’t do whatever wrong the person who hired him alleged you did.
Yes, this is a hitman with a conscience — and an idea.
You can pay the assassin instead.
He’ll not only spare your life, but he’ll give you enough information about the person who put out the hit on you that you could go to authorities and have the person prosecuted.
It’s not real, authorities who have investigated these scams say. It’s just another scam.
Still, it can be frightening to hear that your life could be in danger.
RECOGNIZING THE SCAM
It’s common for scam letters and emails to lack proper grammar and have questionable sentence structure.
The hitman scam is no different.
One version reported by the FBI went like this: “What you will do now is to tell me that you’re ready to make my advance payment of $20k then I will provide you the account of where you will need to swift the money. After that I will then arrange a meeting with you and give you all the information you needed as a prove about the person that is planning to kill you, which you may take as your friend.”
The message was in all caps, but we wanted to spare your eyes.
Others notes from the fake hitmen take it a step further with typos and a display of questionable punctuation proficiency.
For example: “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,”
However well or poorly written the threat is, the FBI said it has no reports of any of the threats being carried out.
If you’re thinking of playing a game with the scammer, don’t.
Responding to these emails or texts will show the sender that your account or phone number is active. That means you can expect more intimidation attempts.
The FBI said in one case, the scammer demanded an advance payment of $20,000. When the target responded and threatened to call authorities, the scammer escalated the threat with a message that included some personal information about the target.
Now keep in mind that lots of personal information, including your address, phone number, marital status and names of your family members, are pretty readily available online. Scammers, in an attempt to appear authentic, will use that information to make you think they have a special source of information about you.
To make you think twice about the authenticity of the message.
Also watch out for a twist in the scam.
In this version, someone says they’re with the FBI in London, and they’ve just arrested an alleged hitman, Your name was next on his list, the phony FBI agent says.
The phony agent will ask for your personal information so you can help the FBI further the investigation.
But it’s all part of an attempt to steal your personal information.
You can report these scams to the FBI via the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).