The Division of Public Safety recently warned the University community of a threatening email and text messaging hoax that has targeted students.
Penn Police said multiple individuals have reported incidents where they received threatening emails and texts over the last two weeks, according to a report from Philadelphia's FOX 29 affiliate.
The emails and texts included claims that the sender had been hired by someone to kill the recipient or a member of the recipient’s family. They also said the recipient must pay the sender money to prevent these violent acts from happening.
Police have noticed that the scams often include the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” and seem to be part of a nationwide scam.
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said that the perpetrators could be coming from all over the world, and are not looking for a high number of responses.
“These are groups, and sometimes they are international. If they can get out mass messages, they only need a handful of people to give them money to make it successful for them,” Rush said.
Rush also recommended reaching out to Penn CASE, an organization devoted to consumer awareness for additional assistance.
DPS urges anyone who receives the email, texts or similar messages to contact Penn Police and refrain from responding to the sender, according to Fox.
This is the second scam through online messaging that has occurred this year, following the mass email phishing scam that affected more than 100 Penn-affiliated individuals in February.
Rush said that this is the latest variation of an ongoing trend in messaging scams and that similar incidents included phone call threats and messages from senders claiming to be the IRS.