Victims of death threat email scams can complain, says FBI

FBI warns global internet users not to entertain emails from unknown senders

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Cyber security: Death threat email (Representational picture) Reuters

We have heard about email scams and might have received one but now these scams have become a global threat, as FBI has warned the entire world to be safe from such scams with death threats.

In 2017 December, a businessman who owns a number of web domains received a scam mail where the sender wrote, "If you try to screw me, I will post your info - your home address, your mug shots on the dark web offering a reward for the first person to reach you."

"I will notify members of MS13, negros [sic], the Aryans, or whoever is out there providing special services. There will be an open season and it will get ugly one way or another. God bless America, this country has so many nut jobs ready to do anything for some extra cash," the email continued.

According to Newsweek, like other individuals, the recipient also ignored the mail. But the sender did not stop there. He added his wife into the email chain, then his daughter with more dangerous life-threatening contents.

In another email, while addressing recipient's family the creepy sender said, "She lives in LA, right?" which showcased that he is keeping a track of their daily life-style. Later he threatened the man saying that "Now think, how ignoring me will help from an encounter with some Salvadorian animal. Or a white trash. You still don't take my words seriously, thinking I'm bluffing?"

The email continued with "Looks like you are a gambler and willing to gamble, otherwise, I can't explain why you're willing to risk your relatives."

Earlier there were many high profile email scam cases such as job scams, lottery, investment schemes, advance-fee fraud among otherrs. The 'Nigerian prince 2.0' became a global threat in 2012, where dozens of Australians and residents of the country started receiving death threat email which said "Sum1 paid me to kill you. get spared, 48hrs to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised... E-mail me now:"

However, even though earlier FBI told users to ignore such emails, after the recent event, they have taken immediate action and asked victims to lodge complaints immediately on their cybercrime website. Even the local police teams have plunged into action about the death threat emails in several communities.

The owner of Louisiana State University's Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center, Jeff Moulton said that the December email is just the beginning of a more complex situation which is likely to unfold in the near future.

Moulton and his team have so far been able to track the culprits to a Swiss server to China. Either the sender is from China or the culprit might be using a Chinese system to hide his or her identity, said Moulton.

He also added that the easy access to Bitcoin and other untrackable cryptocurrencies has increased the risk factor. The rise of Bitcoin has opened the floodgates of illegal online sales, expansion of drug market, he pointed out.

On the other hand, Johannes Ullrich, head of research at the SANS Technology Institute, has blamed social media for such criminal activities, especially Facebook and LinkedIn. He also noted that more than the death threats, the release of embarrassing pictures has become more effective a tool to bag a huge amount.