HUNDREDS of Australians have been targeted by a so-called "hitman scam" after receiving death threat text messages on their mobile phones ordering them to pay thousands of dollars.
The text includes the line: "Sum1 paid me to kill you. get spared, 48hrs to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised...E-mail me now: firstname.lastname@example.org."
Police across the country have today said there was no real threat and the messages should be ignored.
NSW, WA, Victorian, Queensland, South Australian and Tasmanian police issued statements telling recipients not to be alarmed and to just delete the text.
On no account should any money be sent.
Queensland police said the hoax was commonly referred to as "the hitman scam".
"Do not forward the message on and do not respond in any way to the message," Queensland police said in a statement.
"If any member of the public has transferred any money it is vital they contact police and their bank immediately."
People have inundated 000 this morning panicking about the threat in the SMS. And, recipients of the text message have flocked to online forums to confirm the text is a scam.
On Whirlpool Embuy wrote: "Just been to police station to report this as I thought it was a bit more serious than the normal scam. There were 3 people there with the same message. (one older couple who were quite scared). The constable said he had had over 50 telephone calls in the last hour. They are aware of it and have reported it to the media. Lets hope no-one gets scammed. Sick people."
Victorian senior constable Adam West said investigators believed the message had been generated from an international account.
The message had no credibility, he said.
"A similar scam has been documented at www.scamwatch.gov.au and we suggest that people visit the site for further information," Mr West said.
In South Australia, more than 100 people have contacted police after receiving the message.
Tasmania Police said threats similar to this have been circulating on and off by both email and SMS for many years and should be ignored.
NSW police said there had been a big increase in calls to triple zero and local police stations from people alarmed at receiving the text.