Scam contract killer email blackmails recipients with death threat

January 11, 2007 Sophos Press Release

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned of a spammed-out email that pretends to come from a professional hitman, hired to kill the recipient, but are really interested in stealing money.

The emails claim that the recipient has been stalked by a hired assassin for 10 days, but that the hitman is prepared to drop the contract if he is paid a total of $80,000. Upon receiving an initial advance payment of $20,000 the hitman claims that he will produce taped evidence of the contract to kill the reader of the email.

Part of the email, which start with a cheery greeting of "Good day" and can have a subject line of "Read this to be safe and a new life in this new year", reads:

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.

According to Sophos experts, once a victim has been drawn into the scam, requests can be made from the fraudster for private information which may lead to requests for money, stolen identities, and financial theft.

The email claims to come from a professional assassin

The email claims to come from a professional assassin.

"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."

Sophos continues to recommend that all organizations protect their email with an integrated security solution to thwart spam, spyware and malware threats.