Most email scams can threaten your financial security or even your identity. But now, a new one also threatens your life. The sender still wants money, but if you don't pay, someone called the "contractor" will kill you. And while it sounds like extortion, the email seems hard for some people to take seriously, including the woman being threatened.
Like many of us, Erina Tandy gets all kinds of crazy emails. But Friday she received one she never expected. "Friday morning, I looked in my email, there was an email from the 'contractor,'" she explained. Not a contractor like home repairs, but the 'contractor" like a hit man.
The "contractor" claims he needs a total of $70,000 and $20,000 before their first meeting. "The 'contractor' said he was going to kill me in 72 hours if I didn't pay $20,000," Tandy explained.
According to the email, this all has to be secret. He is defying the orders of his boss to, "assassinate her" and is saving her life. But he never mentions Erina by name, even though he claims to have been following her every move over the last 30 days.
"If anyone had been following me for a month, they know I don't have $20,000 on hand to pay to save my life," she laughed.
Better Business Bureau president Ross Howard is a scam expert and read the letter and noticed a few more red flags. "I've never seen this particular spin like this before," he said. "He says assassinate. You assassinate presidents. I don't think she is a dignitary."
Howard seriously doubts the letter can be taken as anything more than a hoax. But he does advise anyone who gets something like this to contact local police or the FBI. "The very fact someone is requiring money with the threat of bodily harm does warrant extortion," he explained.
But Erina says the proof of the fraud should be she is still talking today. "It was Friday, so 72 hours are up. I'm not worried," she said.
Erina did contact the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and their Financial Crimes Division.
Below is a copy of the email Erina Tandy received in its entirety:
If you a receive an email like this, Ross suggests contacting the Internet Crimes Division or the FBI.
Here's another example of a similar email from About.com: