Con artist says he'll kill you if you don't pay up - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Con artist says he'll kill you if you don't pay up

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A local man received a mysterious email saying his family was in danger of being killed by a hired hitman unless he met their demands. However, the FBI says it's a scam.

 "It was rather alarming when I first looked at it," said Dan Masters. 

 The threatening email Masters received read the following: 

You do not know who we are, but we have been tracking you and your loved ones for a while now. We know your schedules. We know where you all live and spend your time. We also know how to kill any one of you without being caught.

 "They're strong words. They're frightening words. They're words meant to get your attention and they certainly got mine," said Masters.

 The sender of the email demanded that if Masters did not pay $3,000 by a certain time, members of his family would be murdered. 

 However, Masters said that once he read the email a second time, he realized he and his family were likely not in any real danger. 

 "There were no specifics. It didn't name me, it didn't name any family members. It had a date that had already passed and all of these things made me realize that it was more likely a scam than anything real," said Masters. "I have a friend who fell victim to one of these things. A scam where they had supposedly won a lottery and this one seemed to me to be much more frightening than the typical ones because instead appealing to greed, it appealed to fear." 

 FBI Special Agent Bradlee Godshall says that different versions of extortion and hit-man scams have been circulating for the past decade and historically, they're not as successful as fake lottery scams and fraudulent offers to earn quick cash.

 "They are all part of what we call extortionate scams, trying to get some money from you from a perceived threat," said Agent Godshall.

 According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, last year they documented more than 260,000 email complaints involving various scams. Only a small percentage of those involved extortion. 

 "The email scams, in total, were over $800 million. The extortionate scams were just a little over $10 million. So, you see it's a very small subset of the overall fraud that's going on the internet," said Agent Godshall.

 As for tracing the source of the email, the FBI says that it's a big challenge. Many of the organized groups of scammers are based in foreign countries and use sophisticated methods that make them difficult to track. 

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