Australians dial 000 over hitman scam

Australians, scared that they may be an assassination target, have called police for help after receiving SMS death threats, but it is just an old hoax.

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: killerking247@yahoo.com."

Police across the country said on Monday that there is no real threat, and that the messages should be ignored.

New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania police have all 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 that the hoax is 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."

Victorian senior constable Adam West said investigators believe that the message had been generated from an international account.

The message has 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," West said.

The ScamWatch alert that West is talking about was an email scam, not an SMS one. However, ScamWatch's warning noted that SMS versions of the scam have been in circulation since 2008. Popular myth-debunking site Snopes also has a listing of the scam, providing email samples dating back as far as 2006.

In South Australia, more than 100 people have contacted police after receiving the message.

Tasmania Police said that 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 that there has been a big increase in calls to triple zero and local police stations from people alarmed at receiving the text.

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