What to do when you are receiving harmful threats from scammers by phone call, letter, or email
Threats from Nigerian-style scammers have become commonplace. Their threats can range from a warning that if you do not send them money they will report you to the FBI and/or Secret Service, to threats on your life or the lives of your children.
The threats can be terrifying in their intensity and must be successful or the scammers wouldn't keep doing it to extort money from their victims.
Assassination threats, "I've been hired to kill you." No one has been hired to kill you. This common scam email is a blatant attempt at extortion and it's working; extortion emails are on the increase. The emails are written by Nigerian-style scammers sitting at their computers with a form letter which they send out to thousands of people around the world. The FBI has this to say: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/jan07/threat_scam011507.htm
The minimum threat: reporting you to a government law enforcement authority
It serves no purpose for any scammer to report his victim to the authorities, particularly Scotland Yard, the FBI, the Secret Service, or any government law enforcement authority.
A file cannot be opened without evidence of a crime, and the only tip the scammer can provide is to accuse you of his own criminal activities. Should any authority investigate they will not find the type of evidence required to back up the tip.
NOTE: Possible exception - If you are engaged in any of these activities: Work at home processing or reshipping money, envelopes, checks and/or merchandise, and/or writing checks on somebody else's account, please write to .
Conclusion: The threat of reporting you to the authorities is an empty threat. Ignore it.
What to do:
Threats of physical violence
This type of threat can freeze you in your tracks. Usually delivered by telephone, the voice is crude and obscene, filled with imminent danger, and the words are heavily sprinkled with foul language. Those delivered by email are disgusting in the extreme.
Do not be an alarmist; this will not get you the attention you need. Be serious, calm, and firm: If you call the FBI, they will may refer you to your local law enforcement but call them anyway.
You can record the phone calls and make a copy of the tape, or print out the emails and take the tape or printed emails down to your local law enforcement office to get the threats on record.
To do this, tell them you want to file a "General Report" unless they suggest a different type of report. Please do not expect the officers to mount surveillance for your protection. Surveillance is very expensive both in dollars and manpower. Local law enforcement knows that the likelihood of Nigerian threats being carried out is very, very slim while crimes perpetrated by local individuals is a certainty.
How to Protect Yourself and Your Family: It's always better to be safe than sorry when faced with threats of physical violence (see above).
What's really going on: It's important that you understand that scammers are in the business of making money from their victims - not in the business of spending money on them when there is no possible profit. Yes, it's true: one occasionally reads of a scam victim being killed by a fraudster; however, it is extremely rare and occurs when there is a long-term close, personal, face-to-face relationship between the scammer and his or her victim. That is not the case in the variety of scams we are discussing here.
Sending a fraud ring member or hired goon to beat up or kill an uncooperative scam victim is very expensive. The costs are twofold: 1. The travel and job expenses; and 2. The risk of exposure to and arrest by local law enforcement.
Remember I said that scammers are in the business of making money, not spending money on uncooperative victims. "Uncooperative" is the key word. While a determined scammer may try to squeeze more money out of a victim by using threats, if none is forthcoming they move on to their other targets.
As for the risk of exposure to local law enforcement, financial scams do not carry the same weight as violent crimes. Once scammers begin resorting to violent crimes, they will be hunted down by international law enforcement with vigor. This is not what the scammers want. They are quite happy with their low profile, which is far more profitable.
Help Fraud Aid report to law enforcement: If you have received or are receiving threatening emails, please FORWARD them to Fraud Aid following the instructions you will find here: www.fraudaid.com/find_headers.htm. The emails will be entered into our research database.
Most threat emails are form letters. Some have been slightly altered, but they are all sent out by the thousands. Common variations may be entered into our online database, but not until all recipient information has been removed. Your personal information is never compromised.
We never post threat emails that are obscene or very personal. We send those directly to law enforcement.
If we have the time a Source Report will be added to the posted sample email, letting viewers know where the scammer was generally located at the time the email was written.