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Fake assassin’s email seeks your money for your life

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — I’m thinking most people wouldn’t fall for the following scam, but just to be on the safe side …

A strange email has been making the rounds, sent by a supposed assassin who has been ordered to kill the recipient “because your activities causes trouble to a particular person.”

But lest you think too badly about this anonymous mercenary, he (she?) is going to give you a reprieve if you agree to send a payment in Bitcoin currency.

“I studied you for quite a time and made a decision to give you a chance, despite the specifics of my job, the business rules of which do not allow me to do this, as this will kill my reputation (more 12 years (sic) of perfect order executions) in certain circles. But I decided to break a rule since this is my last order (at least I do hope so.)”

Lucky you.

The subject line is “Please read this, it can be the most important information in your life.”

Wrong. Here’s the most important information of your life: Mark this email as spam and delete immediately.

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The state AG’s Office has issued a warning to New Mexicans about purchasing vehicles, major appliances or other large items.

Some retailers, including local car dealers, have advertised products “at very low prices,” although what they’re really after is signing up consumers for “very expensive lease or lease-to-own agreements instead,” AG Hector Balderas said in a written alert. “We’ve seen some consumers paying three or four times what the product is actually worth, and they don’t even own the product at the end of the lease.”

In most lease arrangements, the consumer must either return the product when the lease is up or make a balloon payment to purchase the item. Balderas said certain retaliers are using lease agreements instead of typical financing agreements, especially when targeting low-income consumers who may not qualify for a typical sale on credit.

“Consumers not familiar with the differences between leases and credit sales can be easily confused, especially when a retailer or auto dealer is not clear about whether a particular transaction is, in fact, a lease or a sale,” he said.

When it comes to car leasing, state regulations that require dealerships to disclose prior wreck damage and accident histories may not apply to vehicles that are leased rather than sold. The AG recommends reading the fine-print before making a large purchase. Those who believe they have been misled should submit an online complaint form at or call 505-717-3500.

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It looks like computer users this year were no more creative than last when it came to setting passwords.

Listed as the worst passwords in terms of security were the usual winners: “123456” at the top and “password” as the second-worst. Variations of those were also included on SplashData’s annual list of the most-used (and therefore easiest to hack) 100 passwords.

SplashData estimates nearly 3 percent of people used the worst password on the list, while almost 10 percent have used at least one of the top 25.

“These past two years have been particularly devastating for data security, with a number of well publicized hacks, attacks, ransoms, and even extortion attempts,” according to a news release from SplashData. “Even with the risks well known, many millions of people continue to use weak, easily-guessable passwords to protect their online information.

In case you’re tempted to be clever and different, know that many others make the same effort. For example, “monkey,” “football” and “letmein” all were top offenders. Trying to be trendy? Don’t use “starwars,” which came in at No. 16. Feeling blasé while setting a password? Avoid “whatever” and “blahblah,” all of which are on the list.

SplashData, which offers password management services, recommends these basic tips for coming up with a more secure password:

• Use passphrases of 12 characters or more with mixed types of characters, including upper and lower cases.

• Use a different password for each of your website logins. If a hacker gets your password, they will try it to access other sites.

• Consider using a password manager to organize passwords, generate secure random passwords and automatically log into websites.

Ellen Marks is assistant business editor at the Albuquerque Journal. Contact her at or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam.