South Africans are being threatened by ‘hitmen’ – here’s what we know about the email scam
- Some Capetonians have received a badly misspelled death threat from an anonymous emailer.
- Sleuthing has revealed that the associated domain name is registered with the local internet hosting company CyberSmart.
A threatening email from “hired killers” has been sent to a number of Capetonians.
The sender - GDQ Hired Killers – informs the recipient that a contract has been taken on their life, and that a R5,000 payment is required to avoid the hit.
We did some cyber sleuthing and found out the following:
- The email was sent from the IP address 184.108.40.206, which is registered with the internet hosting company Cybersmart. This means that, at the time of sending the e-mail, the scammer was using a device connected to Cybersmart’s network. Cybersmart did not want to give more information, with a consultant saying the issue was “too sensitive”.
- One domain database shows that the website (abgpropslogistics.com) was registered by “Fly sa Fly sa”, and that the e-mail adress email@example.com was provided. An email to the address remained answered at the time of writing. A Facebook search yielded only one Celine Anto, situated in India. The physical address associated with the domain is 72 Canterbury Street, which is Cybersmart’s address.
- Another website associated with the domain is www.carsedengineering.com. The source code of the website shows that its code was apparently copied from the Canadian engineering company Williams Engineering, even down to its Google Analytics ID.
The similar scam first surfaced in the US more than a decade ago. An e-mail from a would-be assassin was sent to several users from a Russian e-mail address. The “assassin”, apparently appointed by a close acquaintance of his target, offers his mark the opportunity to buy him or herself a new lease on life by appealing to the assassin’s avaricious nature.
The “assassin” in the original scam demanded payment of between $50,000 and $150,000.
By comparison, the R5,000 asked by "GDQ Hired Killers" won’t exactly make them a killing.
One South African recipient, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that he wasn't concerned by the email. "I'm not important enough for an assassination. Also, the email address is ridiculous - what sort of logistics company would have a sideline in hit killings?"
The police in the Western Cape said that it had "no record of this modus operandi".