What should I do about illegal activity in an email?

Sometimes you might receive a fraudulent email asking you for personal information that could be used for illegal activities.  A lot of people just delete the email and move on.  But, what if you want to notify someone?  What if the scam is very convincing and you want someone to look into it?

Here are some tips on what to do in this situation.

First, if the email is life-threatening in any way, it is recommended to immediately contact local authorities.  This could be public safety at your campus or workplace, or the local police department.  Make a plan now of who to contact so you won't be unprepared in case something happens.

If the email contains information that could be viewed as part of a terrorist threat, it is suggested to contact the FBI tip line:

https://tips.fbi.gov/

Otherwise, if the email appears to be fraudulent or asks for private information, or is part of some other illegal activity, you can submit a complaint to the FBI on their Internet Crime Complain Center website.

http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx

It includes various FAQs about submitting a complaint, what they want submitted and what to expect.  As long as one of the parties involved is located within the US, they will look into it.

I would also suggest sending an email to the abuse@ email address for a company if it is involved.  For example, if you receive a fraudulent email asking for your Bank of America account login, I would contact abuse@bankofamerica.com along with submitting an IC3 complaint at the URL above.  Each company may have its own contact for issues like this.  They might have a procedure spelled out on their website, too.

The more you help out in cases like this, the better off we all are.  If you are interested in learning about the latest scams, take a look at the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

https://www.ic3.gov/media/default.aspx

Thanks,
Brian

Other resources: https://www.comparitech.com/vpn/avoiding-common-scams-schemes/