One day you wake up after having a pleasant weekend and see a text message on your mobile phone which gives you a death threat. You would certainly be flabbergasted! But that’s exactly what happened to many Australians on Monday morning.
Thousands of Australians received menacing text messages on their phones on Monday, telling them to pay $5,000 within two days otherwise they would be killed.
Police agencies across the country have been flooded with calls from anxious people.
“Do not respond,” said Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police Service. “Delete it immediately and don’t panic, because that’s what they prey upon.”
He said it was the work of a highly organized gang and not someone working alone, and which might be located in some other country.
“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.”
According to him, all the agencies are profoundly investigating the issue and this scam was previously found to be originated from West Africa, typically Nigeria.
The message reads: “Sum1 paid me to kill you. Get spared, 48hrs to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised.”
It then tells the recipient to email them at a Yahoo email account.
The police said that the scale of offense showed that the gang has extraordinary amount of data of people living in Australia, who they are trying to exploit.
This type of event has already occurred twice in Australia over the last two and a half years, according to the police.
“This is not a random event. This is organized crime,” Hay said.
During the press conference, Hay wasn’t aware of anyone who had paid but said seniors and those not familiar with the use of Internet are most likely to be scammed.