Is Big Brother Watching?

A new scam involves e-mail purporting to come from the FBI or the CIA.

Those of us who use e-mail on a regular basis have a constant problem fighting junk mail.

But some junk is not just irritating; it can destroy your computer and your financial life.

There is apparently no end to the ingenuity and creativity of those who want to take your money or take control of your computer.

I am used to receiving e-mail from a variety of sources threatening to close an account of one kind or another unless I immediately log into a website and enter my password and user identification. Some even want my bank account number so a besieged person from across the ocean can immediately drop a couple of million dollars into my account for safe keeping while he battles evil forces destroying his war torn country. I have been notified a few dozen times that I have won a few million lira or pesos in a European lottery and all I have to do to claim my new lifestyle as a multi-millionaire is to send in a few dollars and answer a couple of simple questions so the money can be transferred into my account.

Most readers of are presumably sufficiently sophisticated to quickly dump these messages or report them to the proper authorities.

Despite being accustomed to a deluge of junk mail, yesterday a new series of e-mails started popping up that caught my attention. In fact, I received about 10 e-mails with a return address of “”, “” or “” There were a few other variations but I admit that the first couple caught my eye. I very seldom receive e-mail from readers in either of these secretive agencies. But, since it was a return address with a .gov attached, I wanted to look.

Perhaps it was the result of snooping around the internet to find out the latest on the pending federal pay raise or my inquiries regarding the federal employee health insurance open season that got me on the latest scam lists. This new scam uses fake federal government addresses and alleges I have been visiting illegal websites and big brother now wants me to answer a few questions.

I have not opened the e-mail attachment since I am skeptical that any website I may have visited has attracted the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And, based on past experience, opening the attachment is likely to lead to spyware or some virus being installed on my laptop computer waiting for the most inconvenient time to crash the entire system.

In fact, a quick search of the Internet found the answer. The FBI press release suggests those receiving the e-mail report it at

So, even if you are an current federal employee, ignore the e-mail from the FBI and the CIA asking you for information. It’s not part of a background check and the computer you save may be your own.

By the way, if you are having a problem receiving your daily e-mail newsletter from, be sure to add our address to your address book. That may help the mail come through instead of putting your newsletter in the “junk mail” box.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47