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New Phisher Tactic: Pay Me Or I'll Kill You

The message claims to come from a professional hit man who supposedly has orders to murder the recipient, but will drop the contract if he is paid $80,000.

A new scam arriving in e-mail inboxes contains a death threat, a security company said Friday, and marks a new low in fraudster tactics.

The spammed message claims to come from a professional hit man who supposedly has orders to murder the recipient, but will drop the contract if he is paid $80,000. The "killer" says he has been shadowing the recipient for 10 days, and will produce taped evidence of the planned killing for a down payment of $20,000.

"Do not contact the police or FBI or try to send a copy of this to them, because if you do i will know, and might be pushed to do what i have being paid to do, beside [sic], this is the first time I turned out to be a betrayer in my job," the e-mail reads.

According to security vendor Sophos, it's just as likely that the scammer will try to dupe the recipient out of personal information, such as bank account numbers and passwords, as to follow through on the demand for money.

"This is surely one of the sickest phishes yet seen," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, in a statement. "The intention of this e-mail is clearly to frighten the recipient into coughing up a substantial amount of money or, at the very least, their bank account details.

"Innocent, vulnerable people could be scared into believing that the contents of the e-mail are truthful, while the not-so-innocent are arguably even more likely to be hoodwinked."

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