'Hitman' email scam

16 September 2010

SCAMwatch and Victoria Police are warning Australians to beware of email death threats from scammers claiming to be 'hitmen' hired to kill the email recipient unless they send cash.

This scam has been around for a number of years. In 2008 SCAMwatch warned of an SMS 'hitman' scam and are now receiving reports of an email version of this scam.

The emails arrive out of the blue and often contain a variation of the following message: 'Someone paid me to kill you. If you want me to spare you, I'll give you two days to pay $xxxx. If you inform the police or anybody, you will die, I am monitoring you.'

The scammers will typically request a sum of money and may also ask you for your personal details.

If you receive this scam email, do not respond—these emails are often sent at random, so scammers won’t know if they have reached a live email address until the recipient responds. Ignore any requests for your personal details as it may lead to the theft of your identity.

If you are concerned for your safety, contact the police.

Protect yourself

  • Do NOT respond to emails—if you do, the scammers will escalate their intimidation and attempts to get your money.
  • Never provide your personal, credit card or banking details in an email or over the phone—scammers will use your details to commit identity fraud or steal your money.
  • Keep your computer updated with the latest reputable anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Also use a good spam filter and firewall.
  • If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.

Report

You can report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page on SCAMwatch or by calling 1300 795 995. Noting the email text and the address of the sender may assist in any investigations of the scam.

Should you ever be concerned about your physical safety, contact your local police.

More information

For more information about how you can protect yourself, check out the Requests for your account information ('phishing' scams) page on SCAMwatch.

Victoria Police have also issued a media release on the scam.

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