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Police chief warns of ‘hit man' scam

Hit delete, advises Austin Peay State University Chief of Police Lantz Biles, speaking of SPAM e-mail, widely called hit man, which have been popping up on computers around the world, including on a few APSU computers.

Noting that campus police have received on-campus complaints regarding hit man e-mail, Biles said, I just want to stop the initial terror the recipient feels. The best thing you can do is to delete any unopened and unsolicited SPAM e-mail.
Hit delete, advises Austin Peay State University Chief of Police Lantz Biles, speaking of SPAM e-mail, widely called “hit man,” which have been popping up on computers around the world, including on a few APSU computers.

Noting that campus police have received on-campus complaints regarding “hit man” e-mail, Biles said, “I just want to stop the initial terror the recipient feels. The best thing you can do is to delete any unopened and unsolicited SPAM e-mail.

“Opening and replying just sends a signal to senders that they've reached a live account, and a response escalates the threats.”

In January 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent out a warning about the scam, which uses intimidation to try to extort money from the e-mail recipients. According to the FBI, the first ones appeared in December, threatening to kill recipients if they do not pay the sender.

According to the FBI, the scam e-mail tells recipients, if they do not pay thousands of dollars to the sender, a hired assassin will kill them.

John Hambrick, who heads up the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, said the scam does not appear to target anyone specifically and that, at that time, the Center had not received any reports of money loss or threats carried out.

Bill Shore, a special agent in the FBI's Pittsburgh field office, said e-mail recipients should not be overly frightened when scammers use the intended victim's personal details. “Personal information is widely available,” he said.

According to the FBI, the extortion scam is a less subtle variation of some other e-mail scams designed to trick recipients into turning over money or personal information.

In a new twist, e-mails are surfacing that claim to be from the FBI. These inform the recipient that an arrest has been made in the case and that the recipient's information was found on the suspect. Then the recipient is asked to reply to help further the investigation. This, too, is a scam, and recipients are advised to disregard the request or, better yet, delete before opening.

For more information, contact Biles at (931) 221-7786. -- Dennie B. Burke