The FBI has received 115 reports of the e-mail scam.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
GIRARD — Judith Signoriello would seem an unlikely candidate for a murder-for-hire.
The nurse and social worker at Girard Multi-Generational Center says she doesn’t have any enemies.
So, she was shocked when she opened her e-mail box Tuesday and found a message from an anonymous sender, claiming to be a hit-man hired to carry out her execution.
The message began with the subject line: Be more careful. Its sender was identified only as firstname.lastname@example.org.
“$15,000 is all I need to spare your life,” the message said. “First pay $8,000 and you will receive a tape of the person who wants you dead.
“As soon as you get the tape, you will pay the remaining $7,000.”
The letter warned Signoriello not to contact the police. Her instinct was to do the opposite.
Now, police say the 58-year-old Girard resident was the latest to fall victim of a cruel hoax that has struck e-mail users around the globe.
The FBI has been warning law enforcement agencies about the hit-man hoax since December. The sender has been traced to Brazil, according to Girard Police Chief Frank Bigowsky.
“We’ve had scams in the past,” said Bigowsky. “If it sounds too good to be true, it’s not. If it sounds too weird to be true, it’s not.
“This one was weird.”
The FBI reported receiving 115 complaints of the scam, as of mid-January. No reports of monetary losses or harm to victims have been received.
Recipients are urged not to reply to the e-mail. In one case, the FBI reports, a man who responded, saying he was going to call the authorities, received an angry reply that included his personal information. Investigators say there is no evidence that anyone in particular is being targeted.
Nevertheless, it was a scary experience for Signoriello. She said the rational part of her knew it was unlikely that someone would want to kill her.
“You lie awake thinking, ‘What the heck?’” she said. “I know there’s no one mad at me.”
Signoriello said she’s received requests for money from strangers through e-mail before, but this was a little more upsetting.
“They said, ‘Don’t go out after 7 o’clock, or your family will be killed,’” she said. “It was very disconcerting.”