The FBI has warned computer owners against opening a malicious e-mail that tells the recipients they have been summoned to appear before a grand jury and threatens them with contempt of court if they do not do so.
At first glance, FBI says, the e-mail appears authentic. It contains a court case number, federal code, name and address of a California federal court, court room number, issuing officers' names, and the court's seal.
The spammer directs recipients to click the link provided in the e-mail in order to download and print associated information for their records. If the recipient clicks the link, a malicious code is downloaded onto their computer.
The e-mail also contains language threatening recipients with contempt of court charges if they fail to appear. Recipients are told the subpoena will remain in effect until the court grants a release, FBI says.
As with most spam, the content contains multiple spelling errors, the investigating agency stresses. FBI has advised recipients to contact the issuing court clerk's office for validation. Subpoenas are generally served in person, by mail or fax, not by e-mail.
"Computer based scams and fraudulent activities are rampant on the internet these days," said James E Finch, Assistant Director of the FBI's Cyber Division.
"People should delete unsolicited e-mail, especially from an unknown sender. If you accidentally open the e-mail, do not click any embedded links, as they may contain a virus or malware which will harm your computer."