Police: Threatening Emails Are a Scam

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Knoxville (WVLT) - A pair of emails send chills down a grandmother's spine. The sender claimed he was hired to kill, and the only way to spare her life was to pay up.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy spoke with police and has more on what you need know.

Some call it a prank. Police call it a scam, but readers call it just plain scary, and police say it's that fear of what could cost you your life could just end up costing you your money.

"I have been hired to kill you," Myrna Boyd read from the threatening email she received.

Strong words.

"Do not dare me. I am a born killer," Boyd read.

Striking fear into Myrna Boyd.

"I was scared. I was frightened," Boyd said.

In two emails in the last two days, this grandmother's computer mouse has opened death threats. They say the only way to save her life is to pay the writer's ransom.

"I'd like to know who's doing this, and I'd like for them to stop," Boyd said.

"This one in particular's kind of scary for people," Knoxville Police Captain Gary Holliday said.

Holliday says Boyd is a victim of well-known email scam called phishing.

"It's like throwing your lure out to the lake, seeing what kind of fish you can catch. They'll send hundreds, thousands of these emails out," Holliday said.

Like email scams saying you've won a million dollars.

"It's all about the money," Holliday said.

These e-threats want you to cough up your cash.

"Whether it's money straight out their bank account, to steal their identity, whatever there's money to gain from it," Holliday said.

Police say most scam-artists hit the keyboard outside the US. According to Boyd's email, her threat came from Germany. So police can track the email, but...

"The problem is the ability to prosecute that person successfully when they're thousands of miles overseas in a country we have not treaty with," Holliday said.

So how do you know if it's a scam? Police say check the wording. Check the grammar. Any broken English could be your first clue.

"It'll hit you while you're reading it. Hey, this really doesn't sound like it's an English speaker writing this," Holliday said.

And if the email makes your knuckles too white.

"Do call police, do make a police report," Holliday said.

Exactly what Boyd plans to do.

"I'm sick of it," Boyd said.

Because she can't live in fear.

KPD says it's been successful tracking down Internet fraud cases. Most of those either have the victims or the perpetrator in the area.