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FBI called in as Australian 'hitman scam' issues death threats in texts

Police in Australia are seeking help from the FBI and Britain’s Scotland Yard after tens of thousands of Australians received death threats by text message, warning them that they will be killed unless they pay thousands of dollars, according to reports Monday.

It has commonly been referred to as "the hitman scam," according to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

The Australian newspaper reported that the text message included the following line: "Sum1 paid me to kill you. get spared, 48hrs to pay [AU] $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, death is promised...E-mail me now: killerking247yahoo.com."

The Morning Herald quoted New South Wales Chief Superintendent Peter Cotter saying that state police would look abroad for help.

"We have direct connections with many international law enforcement agencies," Cotter told the newspaper.

"There'll be people we'll be speaking to, such as the FBI and London Metropolitan Police and so forth," he told the paper.

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'A very ugly attempt by fraudsters'
Queensland Police Detective Superintendent Brian Hay called on recipients to delete the messages and disregard the threat, which he said had no credibility.

"Across Australia at this point in time we've been flooded and inundated by disturbing emails and text messages claiming that you're about to be killed if you don't part with the sum of (Australian) $5,000 … to be transferred into the hands of criminals. Please understand that this is a scam -- a very ugly attempt by fraudsters overseas to get your money. There is no immediate threat to you or your family," Hay said in a video message to the public posted on the website for The Age newspaper.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted a man identified only as “Shane” as saying he did not take the threat seriously.

"I've probably got about $30 million worth of lottery text messages in my phone at the moment. So, usually when I get a message from an unknown number I don't take it too seriously," he was quoted as saying.

People in at least five Australian states -- New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania -- have reported receiving the texts on their cellphones, The Australian newspaper said.

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