The federal Bureau of Investigation has intervened in a social engineering scheme that consists of emails that threaten the recipient with an imminent assassination. The email contains a message from a supposed hitman that asks for money in return of information in relation to the person that has contracted him for $50,000 to terminate the recipient. The emails are nothing more than an extortion phishing scam.
"This is surely one of the sickest phishes yet seen - the intention of this email is quite clearly to frighten the recipient into coughing up a substantial amount of money or, at the very least, their bank account details," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Innocent, vulnerable people could be scared into believing that the contents of the email are truthful, while the not-so-innocent are arguably even more likely to be hoodwinked. It may be hugely unnerving to receive such threats, but the only way to stop the distribution of these messages is for users to stop responding."
The FBI has published two warnings in relation to the extortion phishing emails. The first warns recipients not to give away personal data and expose themselves to identity theft and the second informs of a twist that was added to the scam, and that the victims are now contacted via emails that claim to be from the FBI in London.
The new emails identified as being part of the same extortion scam claim that a suspect has been arrested in relation with murders in the US and the UK and that the recipient was 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," informed the FBI.