A text message scam purporting to be from a hired hitman is reportedly duping Australians into sending thousands of dollars to the scammers to "buy" a stay of execution.
SCAMwatch stated that several police and law enforcement agencies across Australia have received reports of text messages this month warning the recipient that they have been marked for death unless they pay up.
According to SCAMwatch a typical message reads: "Someone paid me to kill you. If you want me to spare you, I'll give you two days to pay $5000. If you inform the police or anybody, you will die, I am monitoring you."
The text messages originate from international numbers and in some cases the mobile phone number of the sender is blocked.
The scammers are requesting between A$1000-$50,000 from their victims, and have been successful in duping Australians into paying out of fear for their lives.
The perpetrators are also requesting personal information such as banking details, with SCAMwatch warning of potential risks of identity theft in addition to the death-threat hoax.
SCAMwatch is urging anybody receiving similar e-mails or text messages to ignore them, or report the message and the sender's mobile phone number to its report a scam Web page.