January 12, 2007 3:05 PM PST

FBI warns of twist in extortion phishing scam

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FBI officials are warning users of a new phishing scam that plays off a recent round of bogus extortion threats.

The initial e-mails phishing for personal information were sent around last month, purportedly from a would-be hit man demanding users pay an extortion fee of thousands of dollars, or face death, according to an FBI advisory.

The e-mail recipients were informed the so-called hit man had been hired by their friend to knock them off, but the hit man would forgo the job as long as a payment of several thousand dollars was made, according to the FBI advisory. Users were asked to quickly respond to the bogus e-mail and provide their telephone number.

The phishing scam making the rounds this week involves an e-mail designed to dupe recipients into believing it was sent from the FBI in London. The e-mail again asks for personal information, noting a person was recently arrested for related murders of several U.S. and U.K. residents. The e-mail goes on to say the individual under arrest was found to have information about the e-mail recipient, stating that he or she was to be the next victim.

FBI officials note this second round of e-mails is bogus and advise users to disregard such e-mails unless they contains some personally identifiable information.

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