Gamblers and con-men believe “there’s a sucker born every minute.” As early as 1879, the phrase was uttered and in today’s world, those con-men have become a lot more sophisticated.
For scam artists and thieves, the internet provides a multitude of opportunities to take advantage of well-meaning people. As a crime writer, I see too many of these stories every year. That’s why I wrote the Jess Kimball Thriller series, where it’s Investigative Reporter Jess Kimball’s impossible mission to protect victims from con-artists and criminals.
Over the last few weeks I’ve written about various forms of online fraud, from tech-support and romance scams to fake lotteries. While all of these scams target vulnerable individuals and fleece them out of money and more, some conmen also threaten lives.
Hitman scams have been circulating the internet since 2007. In this scam, victims are targeted through SMS texts, email or social media from a scam artist posing as a hitman. The alleged assassin may claim that a close friend or family member has hired them to kill the victim. Further threats that the victim is being watched or that they will be harmed if authorities are contacted are used to incite fear. In some cases, the scammer may even impersonate government officials claiming to have incriminating information about the victim.
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If you are the recipient of such a message, block the sender on your email or cellphone and do not reply. Replying will only provide the scammer with an incentive to continue the harassment and make more demands.