TAMPA -- Someone has paid me to kill you! It's a pretty scary statement. That's the email a Hillsborough County woman received, and the sheriff's office says she's not alone, being targeted in one of the latest phishing scams for fast cash.
We've heard the warnings before, but Renate Greenfield says she doesn't want anyone to fall victim to the threat.
"Someone asked me to kill you. My heart just stopped at that point. It absolutely stopped," says Greenfield.
She did a double-take checking her email.
"I continued to read the message, and my heart was going even faster as I continued reading,” she said. “'You pay me $10,000 and I shall terminate the operation after that I would give the info on the person who wants you dead.'”
The 71-year-old thought, wait a minute. A hit? On her?
"I read it again in full, and I realize this has got to be a scam. 'You can call the authority and have them do patrol in your area 24/7. That didn't stop me from hunting you and your loved ones down. We are invisible,'" Greenfield reads.
She called the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office anyway.
"He told me they have received over 100 of these just that morning," Greenfield says.
"Every day they're coming up with a different type of scam," says Detective Larry McKinnon.
McKinnon says Greenfield did the right thing to let them investigate if there's a threat. Investigators also have to prove the crooks have the means to really kill you.
"We do catch them, and if we can we will," says McKinnon.
But McKinnon says typically these emails come from scammers out of the country who blast it to thousands of people. They don't know if you receive it, unless you reply. So don't cave into the intimidation tactic.
"Don't respond to them. Don't give them your credit card information. Don't give out any personal information. Don't reply back," says McKinnon.
Greenfield posted it on NextDoor hoping to spread the word to neighbors. Don't fall for it.
"I'd hate for anyone to either have their computer crashed, or have some phishing going on and take their personal information off their computer. If somebody, one out of 100 pays, these people have made some money. I just want everyone to be careful. Don't respond to things like that and don't pay the money," says Greenfield.
According to the myth-busting website Snopes, the so-called "hitman scam" goes back more than a decade, originating in Russia.
Florida has a Scam Hotline. That number is 1-866-966-7226.
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