Internet Technology Services and the Office of Public Safety at Ithaca College are investigating a threatening e-mail sent to users on the Ithaca listserve. Six people reported the e-mail, but ITS said there could be more.
Beth Rugg, manager of User Support Services at ITS, said six people reported receiving an e-mail from a person named “Scot” saying he was going to assassinate them.
Shannon Hills, administrative assistant in the Whalen Center for Music, said she received the e-mail last Wednesday. She said “Scot” said people were watching her and if she notified anyone she had received the message she would be killed immediately. Hills said she was told to follow a link to reply to the message, but she did not.
“I pretty much knew it was a hoax, but to open something like that, I was a little disturbed,” she said.
Hills said she forwarded the e-mail to ITS and a person there told her not to worry about it and to either delete, ignore or put it in her spam folder. She was told to contact Public Safety, who met with her and gave her a case number. ITS took the headers off her computer so they could track the person, but she said she is unsure if it could be resolved.
“There’s only so much you can do about it,” Hills said. “To actually track down the person would probably be quite difficult.”
Investigator Tom Dunn said the incident is common, but people who receive this e-mail should speak up.
“We want any of these types of e-mails reported to ITS as abuse, but we don’t particularly see it as alarming,” he said.
Dunn said Public Safety and ITS are working together to identify the sender and to keep the e-mails from being received repeatedly, which can be done through blocking. He said Public Safety and ITS believe the e-mail came from a service provider from outside the country.
Rugg said when ITS was notified last Wednesday morning, the service administrators worked to blacklist the sender’s address. She said this way, the e-mail will not be sent again.
She said the reports suggested those who received the e-mail were afraid of it and ITS notified Public Safety.
“We recognize it is kind of a harassing, threatening spam message,” she said. “It’s something that’s not real, but some of our users didn’t understand that, and they felt threatened.”
Rugg said if people believe an e-mail is suspicious or do not know the sender, they should ignore it and delete it. If they do open an e-mail and feel threatened, they should contact Public Safety.
Rugg said there are spam filters, but sometimes users still get junk e-mails and will report them. She said this particular type of threatening e-mail is not reported often.
Hills said even though it will be difficult to track down the person behind the e-mail, she hopes something will be done.
“It’s a disturbing e-mail that takes the scam to the absolute limit,” she said.
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