If you receive an official-looking email purportedly from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in which you are threatened with arrest, just delete it and ignore it.
There are several variations of the scam email making the rounds. One version, signed by “Special Agent Terry Williams,” supposedly comes from the Anti-Terrorist and Monetary Crimes Division. See an example of the email at http://ct.bbb.org/storage/29/documents/FAKE_FBI_email.pdf.
The email, which bears an FBI seal and address in Washington, DC, tells recipients that $10.5 million has been deposited in a bank account in their name by a foreign government “without the proper documentations (sic) to prove the funds are not related to terrorist/money laundering activities.” The email says that the proper certification is required to prove that the money is not connected to illegal activities, and that the recipient will be arrested unless the paperwork is received by the FBI within 48 hours.
Some versions of the email request personal information, others ask for payment information for documentation and one requires you to simply reply to the email. Any reply tells the sender that you are receptive to bogus emails and more will follow, either demanding payment, or personal information, or containing a hyperlink that can download malware into your computer to track your logins, passwords and all of your other keyboard and browsing activity.
Similar phony emails have been sent out under the name of other government agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Scammers also create authentic-looking emails supposedly from financial institutions, requesting personal information to “unlock” a closed or suspended account.
Federal agencies caution:
“Some websites and emails try to mislead customers and members of the public into thinking they are official U.S. government websites.
These websites are designed to appear official, and often have images of the U.S. flag, U.S. Capitol, White House, or Statue of Liberty. What these websites and emails are missing is the “.gov” suffix on their addresses. Remember that anything that does not end with “.gov” should be considered suspect.”
Connecticut Better Business Bureau reminds consumers:
- The government and other institutions do not send out such alerts or ask for personal or financial information by email
- Report the incident to http://www.ic3.gov, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center
- Never click on a link in or respond to a suspicious email
- Delete the email and let friends and family know about the scam