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What to do when you are receiving harmful threats
from scammers by phone
Assassination threats, "I've been hired to
What to do
Threats of physical violence
How to protect yourself and your family
What's really going on
Helping track the bad guys
Threats from Nigerian-style scammers
have become commonplace. Their threats can range from a warning that if
you do not send them money they will report you to the FBI and/or Secret
Service, to threats on your life or the lives of your children.
The threats can be terrifying in their intensity and
must be successful or the scammers wouldn't keep doing it to extort money
from their victims.
Assassination threats claiming that, "I've been hired to kill you."
No one has been hired to kill you.
This common email is a blatant attempt at online extortion. The emails are
written by Nigerian-style scammers sitting at their computers thousands
of miles away sending out hundreds of form
letters a day.
|These emails are mass mailed to thousands in what is referred to as
an Extortion Scam. It is very common and most all text is exactly
the same as others that have been reported. There is absolutely
nothing to worry about here. They do not know who you are, and
will not unless you answer them.
What they are fishing for is someone that has reason to be afraid
of having a real physical enemy. Should anyone answer, not only
will they be scammed, but they also let the scammer know that
they have something to hide and will set the hook firmly.
They don't know you, don't care about you, and only pay attention to the victims
who answer their threats. They can juggle as many as 20 victims at a time.
It's what they do all day. It's their job.
Receiving an email
threatening death and destruction is not funny and for some, it can be
terrifying, which the scammers are counting on. They want you to follow
their instructions, lining their pockets with your money, and they don't care if
they have to scare the money out of you.
If you do not respond,
they may try to get your attention a few more times using bulk email programs,
but if you do not send them money they are not going to waste their time on you.
STOP ALL COMMUNICATION -
How to submit an email to the Fraud Aid
Database for Law Enforcement
The minimum threat: claims of reporting you to a government law enforcement authority
It serves no purpose for any scammer to report his
victim to the authorities, particularly Scotland Yard, the FBI, the Secret
Service, or any government law enforcement authority. A file cannot be
opened without there being evidence of a crime, and the only evidence the
scammer can supply is that of his own criminal activities. It's simply
not an option.
On top of that, government enforcement agencies are well
aware of Nigerian and Romanian style crimes so any call from one of the
scammers would be totally ineffective, and the scammers are well aware of
Conclusion: The threat of
reporting you to the authorities is an empty threat. Ignore it.
What to do:
The fastest way to get rid of threatening phone calls
is to get yourself a whistle, a plastic one from a discount toy store
will do, and blow it loudly into the telephone. The calls will stop
not alter your entire life because of the threats; remember that so long
as you refuse to send any money, they will go away.
You are useless to them and of no importance whatsoever to them if they
cannot get any money out of you.
bother telling the scammers, either by phone or email, that you have
reported them to the authorities. They simply don't care. This will
not make them stop contacting you. They will continue to contact you so
long as you are responsive. STOP talking to them and stop writing to
them. Keep in mind that every time you open one of their emails they
know about it because they get a notice stating that their letter has
been opened (email receipt), and
you are also opening your hard drive to them.
Go back to
#1: Blowing that whistle in their ear will make you feel very, very
Threats of physical violence
This type of threat can freeze you in your tracks.
Usually delivered by telephone, the voice is crude and obscene, filled
with imminent danger, and the words are heavily sprinkled with foul
language. Those delivered by email are disgusting in the extreme.
is not unusual for the scammer to have purchased personal information about you
and your family gained through social engineering (information gathered through
correspondence in relationship scams is common) and social networking sites such
as Facebook. The scammer will make it appear that he is watching your
every move when all he is doing is referring to a list of information he has
Do not be an alarmist, this
will not get you the attention you need. Be serious, calm, and firm:
If you call the FBI, they will may refer you to your local law enforcement
but call them anyway.
record the phone calls and make a copy of the tape, or print out the
emails and take the tape or printed emails down to your local law
enforcement office to get the threats on record.
To do this, tell them
you want to file a "General Report" unless they suggest a different type
of report. Please do not expect the officers to mount a surveillance
for your protection. Surveillance is very expensive both in
dollars and manpower. Local law enforcement knows that the
likelihood of Nigerian threats being carried out is very, very slim (see
below), whereas being needed elsewhere is a certainty.
How to Protect
Yourself and Your Family:
It's always better to be safe than sorry.
A little paranoia is a good thing, but keep it in
check. If you become too emotional, you're no good to yourself or
Avoid being home alone.
there are always lights on somewhere in your house.
- Buy timer
switches at the hardware store.
- Set them so
that your lights go on and off in different parts of your house at
different times, and so that the radio comes on and goes off, same with
the television. Be unpredictable.
routine wherever possible - do not be predictable.
doors and windows locked. Do not open
your door to anyone you do not know and whose voice you cannot easily
recognize through the door. If opening your door is an automatic
reaction, stop it. You DO NOT have to open your door to anyone.
Do not assume you know who is on the other side, or that it is ever
- If someone
says they are the police or the FBI, and you have a peephole or other
means of seeing outside, have them hold up their badge where you can
clearly read it. Take your time.
- If you do
not have a peephole or other means of seeing outside, ask them what
office they are from, call information to get the phone number for that
office (do not use a phone number they give you), then call to verify.
- Use the same
precautions with deliveries, repairmen, everyone.
routes to and from the store, the bank, the office, etc. Be
If you have
children, make sure they are not left outside unsupervised.
- If they are
driven to activities, make sure that whoever is dropping them off walks
into the facility and checks in with the attending adult who has been
made aware of the situation in advance.
- If they are
to be picked up, whoever is picking them should arrive early, enter the
facility, check in with the attending adult, and walk the children to
Be aware of
your surroundings at all times. This is a bit of a hassle at
first, but after a while you will become accustomed to noting who is in
your vicinity and what they are doing. If you notice anything that
gives you pause, go into the nearest building and wait. Exit by a
different door if possible. Be unpredictable.
Do not park
far from any building. If you cannot find a parking space that is
close to the building, wait. Drive around for a while. When
you go back to your car, see if you can find someone to escort you.
If you cannot find someone to escort you, hold your car door key in your
hand ready to insert into the lock. Walk firmly and quickly to
your car, open the door, get in and immediately lock the doors.
This is a good practice for all women regardless of whether or not there
has been a threat.
At night, keep
your shades drawn.
going on: It's important that you understand that
scammers are in the business of making money from their victims - not in
the business of spending money on them when there is no possible profit.
Yes, it's true: one occasionally reads of a scam victim being killed by a
fraudster; however, that is extremely rare and occurs when there is a
long-term close, personal, face-to-face relationship between the
scammer and his or her victim. That is not the case in the variety of
scams we are discussing here.
Sending a fraud ring member or hired goon to beat up or
kill an uncooperative scam victim is very expensive. The costs are
twofold: 1. The travel and job expenses; and 2. The risk of exposure to
and arrest by local law enforcement.
Remember I said that scammers are in the business of
making money, not spending money on uncooperative victims.
"Uncooperative" is the key word. While a determined scammer may try to
squeeze more money out of a victim by using threats, if none is
forthcoming they move on to their other targets.
As for the risk of exposure to local law enforcement,
financial scams do not carry the same weight as violent crimes. Once
scammers begin resorting to violent crimes, they will be hunted down by
international law enforcement with vigor. This is not what the scammers
want. They are quite happy with their low profile, which is far more
Help Fraud Aid report to law enforcement:
If you have received or are receiving
threatening emails, please Forward them to Fraud Aid following the
instructions you will find here:
How to submit an email to the
Fraud Aid Database for Law Enforcement. The emails will be entered
into our research database.
Most threat emails are
form letters. Some have been slightly altered, but they are all
sent out by the thousands. Common variations may be entered into
our online database, but not until all recipient information has been
removed. Your personal information is never compromised.
We never post threat
emails that are obscene or very personal. We send those directly
to law enforcement.
If we have the time a
Source Report will be added to the posted sample email, letting viewers
know where the scammer was generally located at the time the email was