Australia police warned mobile phone users on Monday to ignore a text message threatening death if they do not pay $5,000.
"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: [email protected]," read the text, according to Agence France-Presse.
"Do not respond," said Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police Service to CNN. "Delete it immediately and don't panic, because that's what they prey upon."
The messages started arriving on mobile phones and in inboxes on Sunday, reported CNN. Police said they were surprised by the scope of the scam.
"What is extraordinary in these circumstances is the extent of contact across the Australian landscape," Hay said. "We've never seen this before. I've never seen this before."
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Queensland police said the hoax is commonly referred to as "the hitman scam," according to AFP. New South Wales police have also said they have been receiving a "major" increase in emergency calls. Police forces are investigating the origin of the message, but with most scams coming from overseas, it is difficult to track down and prosecute the perpetrators.
"If any member of the public has transferred any money it is vital they contact police and their bank immediately," police said, reported AFP. They also informed the public they do not believe there is any real threat.