There's nothing quite like a death threat to trick people into giving up their credit card numbers, and that's exactly what the bad guys are using in a fairly new online scam that's becoming known as a 419 death threat.
Swa Frantzen, a volunteer handler at the Bethesda, Md.-based SANS Internet Storm Center, offered some examples of the threat on the Internet Storm Center Web site Tuesday.
He said there are several variations of the text victims receive, but the gist boils down to this example (with spelling and grammar included):
"Hello, I wish to let you know that i have been paid by a client to assasinate you at convenience,and i have signed a contract of $650,000 yesterday for this. I have never met you before, but they gave me the full description of your identity and contact, together with your photograph which my boys have used to trace you. The reason why they want you Dead is not disclosed to me as i was not allowed to know,but you are now not better that the dead ok.
My BOYS are now contantly watching you,they are following you-home,office,everywhere.....,you go and they are waiting for my instruction to terminate you.And they will strike at convenience.
THIS IS MY MESSAGE-
LISTEN VERY WELL !!!!,the Police cannot do much to help you out in this right now because you are being watched,any such attempt is very risky cause you will push us to terminate your life without option. Your calls are not safe also.In fact you are traced. I have no business with you but at least i have cleared the way as a pro-,but you may have one chance to live again if you can contact me not latter that 24 hours after this mssage.
Frantzen said some versions ask for more "realistic" amounts, are longer and have fewer spelling mistakes. Messages include a drop box on a free email provider "where they expect you to contact them," he wrote.
"The best possible advice: Do not make contact," he added. "These guys will just spam you if you do not respond. Once you respond they've spotted somebody who might fall for the scam and they'll be much harder and annoying to get rid of. This is the classical [example of] 'don't be the easiest target.'"
The FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center have a Web site where people can report scam attempts such as this.
When doing so, Frantzen said it should be reported as a 419 death threat.