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Police in Australia are investigating a flood of spam e-mails and SMS messages that read, "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."
"NSW, WA, Victorian, Queensland, South Australian and Tasmanian police issued statements telling recipients not to be alarmed and to just delete the text," The Australian reports.
The statement from the South Australia Police reads, "The public are advised there is no need to call contact police as we are already investigating the matter as a scam. Please delete the message, DO NOT pay any money, there is no need to be alarmed."
"Police say it is vital anyone who has transferred money as a result of the texts or emails contact police and their bank immediately," The Brisbane Times reports.
"The messages started assaulting mobile phones and email accounts Sunday," writes CNN's Ed Payne. "Police did not provide an exact figure but 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,' [Queenland Police Service detective superintendent Brian] Hay said. 'We've never seen this before. I've never seen this before.'"
"Hay said the Australian police have encountered this scam in the past, the most recent case being 18 months prior to Sunday’s text message blast," writes The New York Daily News' Meena Hart Duerson. "Past versions of the hoax have been traced to West Africa, he said, noting that Yahoo email addresses have historically been linked to criminals operating in Nigeria, for example."