Scam Scares Victims with “Hitman” Text Messages

Watch out for a threatening twist on a classic email scam. Scammers are posing as hitmen and sending text messages telling victims to pay up… or die.

How the Scam Works:

You receive a scary text message. It appears to be from a hitman, saying that he/she’s been hired to kill you. In order to spare your life, he asks you to contact him immediately and pay several thousand dollars.

Of course, your life isn’t in danger. It’s really a con trying to scare you into handing over money. This “hitman” scam has been around for a while, but its resurgence and use of text message are new. It was originally an email scam, but the shift in medium makes it more personal.. and intimidating.

As always, the exact wording, amounts requested and contact information used vary. Here are two versions:

  • “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.”
  • “Someone paid me to kill you.I will spare you, I give you 2 days to pay $5000.If you inform the police, you will die.I am monitoring you.” 

What to Do About Text Message Scams:

Text message scams are becoming increasingly common. Here’s what to do if you receive one:

  • Hit delete: Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
  • Block them: Forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This will alert your cellphone carrier to block future texts from those numbers.
  • Report spam and scams: U.S. residents should report unwanted commercial texts to the Federal Trade Commission, and Canadian residents should report to Spam Reporting Centre. Commercial text involve unwanted messages selling products or impersonating a business. Text messages that threaten physical harm should be reported to the local police.

For More Information

For more information about scams, see BBB Scam Stopper.  Also, read the FBI’s warning about the resurgence of the hitman scam

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