LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's a frightening email that's showing up in inboxes around the country. The sender claims they've been hired by someone you know to kill you. The only way to save your life is by sending thousands of dollars.
Jeanette Balsz of Sheridan says she recently received an email that would put fear in most anybody. She says, "It said that someone who was supposedly someone who is a friend of mine had hired them to kill me."
The subject title was "someone you call your friend, wants you dead". Here's an example of what she saw in her inbox, "felt very sorry and bad for you." "Now do you want to live or die?"
The threats got worse, the sender told her things like, "I have sent my boys to track you down and they have carried out the necessary investigation needed for the operation."
Balsz says what really got her attention was the demand for thousands of dollars in order to stop the alleged murder plot. She says, "I told myself, I know this is a scam. There just trying to get money out of me, but the little old lady down the road might not believe that and she might send them the eight thousand dollars that they're wanting."
The Attorney General's Consumer Affairs Department says anybody could fall victim to this sort of e-mail, but rest assured you're not their only target. Sarah Tacker with the department says, "These are scam e-mails that are typically sent by computer programs, it is not a particular individual e-mailing another individual. These are typically sent on a mass scale to e-mail addresses that have been mined."
While Balsz knew the e-mail to be fradulant, she still found herself being extra careful by checking to make sure no one was following her. She says, "I know it's not real, but it still makes you very uneasy to think, you know, people are sending this out. People out there will believe it."
The Attorney General's office says these scams are pretty common, but regardless, if you receive any type of extortion e-mail, you should report it to your local authorities.
Here are some more tips from the Attorney General's Office on how to protect yourself from spam email.
- Check with your email provider or Internet service provider to see if they offer tools that filter spam or channel spam to a junk email folder.
- Try not to display your email address in public. This includes social networks, newsgroup postings, chat rooms and websites.
- Some websites allow you to opt out of receiving promotional emails, offers and solicitations from them or their "partners." Be watchful for opt-out checkboxes before you submit your information.
- Consider using two email addresses - one for personal and financial messages and another for social networking, newsgroups or chat rooms.
- Use a unique email address. Spammers use dictionary attacks to sort through possible name combinations at large Internet service providers or email services, hoping to find a valid address. Common names, such as "bobsmith," may get more spam than a unique name.
If you receive spam in your email inbox, you can report it to the FTC. You can send a copy of the unwanted email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The FTC uses these unsolicited emails to pursue law enforcement actions against spammers. You may also consider contacting your Internet service provider so they can take steps in the future to reduce spam abuse on their system.
The Better Business Bureau also has great tips on how to protect yourself from email scams. You can always report suspected fraudulent businesses to them.
Ark. Attorney General: http://www.ag.arkansas.gov/consumer_money_transfer_scams.html
Better Business Bureau: http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-scams/