Hitman scam spammer on the prowl again

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A scam artist who threatens to kill spam email recipients or kidnap their loved ones is active again, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns.

Called the Hit Man spammer, this person or persons as yet unknown broadcasts thousands of emails pretending to be a hired assassin and demanding to be bought off for thousands of dollars.

The spam emails contain personal information about the recipients such as names, titles, addresses and phone numbers in order to appear to be credible threats of violence.

The threatening spam emails first tipped up in December 2006 and have evolved over time. Since January they have been received in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington, with two new variants having appeared since July in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

One new twist instructs the receiver to call a phone number listed in the email and another threatens the recipient or a loved one will be kidnapped unless the victim replies via email within 48 hours and a ransom is paid.

In the second variation, the sender would notify the victim of a wire transfer destination five minutes before a deadline and threatened violence if ransom money was not wired within 30 minutes.

People who receive these Hit Man emails have been advised not to reply to them, as replying just tells the scammer(s) they've reached a live email account and triggers escalation of the intimidation.

The FBI asks that people receiving the Hit Man scammer's spam emails ignore the threats and report them to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Whoever they are, he or they had better hope that the FBI collars them before they threaten the wrong folks, that is, people who have the disposition and resources to hunt them down.
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