Email scam: Death threats

E-mail scammers and spammers often offer generous rewards to those naive enough to send cash in exchange for big lottery winnings. Now con artists are trying scarier tactics: death threats and extortion.

Messages that claim to come from a hired killer are showing up in email boxes across the Northwest, including here in Ada County. The sender says he is a hit man hired to kill the recipient and orders that person to send thousands of dollars to stop his own murder. The message warns recipients not to contact authorities.

Ada County Sheriff's detectives have investigated a death threat email sent to an Ada County man. They do not believe the email was aimed at a specific person but is a form letter sent to many recipients trying to scam money from them. Detectives urge you not to respond to the emails. Because nearly all of the emails originate in foreign countries, law enforcement officers do not have the ability to prosecute the sender.

For more information on reporting and avoiding Internet scams visit the Internet Crime Complaint Center.