Assassin’s message, ‘I’ve been paid to kill you,’ is a cyber scam

So you get an email from a professional assassin that says, “I’ve been paid to kill you.” What should you do?

Delete, delete, delete. And don’t respond or click on any hyperlink before you delete the message.

If you respond, you will unleash a Trojan horse virus that infects your electronic device and steals information, including your contacts list, which keeps perpetuating the scam. A Trojan horse is a computer program cyber-thieves and hackers use to gain access to your computer or smartphone.

The virus sends the same threatening message to all your contacts.

And if you respond and agree to pay thousands of dollars to stop the hit, you’ve been duped by one of the most frightening scams around.

After you’ve been lured into the scam, the fraudster can obtain your private information, leading to identity theft and financial fraud, according to scamdex.com.

The scam is circulating widely in the Northeast and has made its way to Alabama, according to al.com. Police in Montgomery and Dothan have issued warnings about the scam.

The threat says, “I’ve been paid to kill you but wish to spare you, inform the police or anyone else you will die, to be spared contact (a certain email address) immediately.”

News reports from around the nation indicate the threat also is being made in text messages.

The scam isn’t new. It was circulating at least nine or 10 years ago, according to a 2007 warning from sophos.com, the home page of a spyware- and virus-protection company. The scam can be unnerving, but the only way to stop it is for people to stop responding, the website said.

Biloxi police Lt. Christopher De Back said he hasn’t heard complaints of the scam in years. Pascagoula police Lt. Doug Adams said he hasn’t heard of any complaints, either.

But because of the way the scam grows, it can hit South Mississippi at any time — if it hasn’t already.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews