In the last 24 hours Australia has been a-buzz with the news of the ‘Sum1 paid me to kill you’ texting scam. The text message threatens death unless a sum of $5,000 is paid to the ‘hitman’. The text, which 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.” was sent to an unknown number of people across Australia.
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: email@example.com.”
Police across the country have today said there was no real threat and the messages should be ignored.
It’s been suggested that the text resulted from a hack within an auto-messaging service containing the mobile numbers of these individuals, either via an online survey or some other messaging service (source).
It hasn’t taken long for this to become a cause of much amusement among the people of Australia, just this morning I heard people joking about it on a radio morning show as well as on popular breakfast show Sunrise.
This scam got me thinking about the very real rising concern of dating website scams, luring people in then asking for money. Preying on the innocent and the lonely, the scammer convinces them there’s a genuine relationship then a relative dies, they need help paying their bills, whatever, and need money. Your typical Nigerian Prince scam adapted to 2012 technology.
Scamwatch suggests the following for avoiding scams:
- ALWAYS consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam, particularly if the warning signs listed above appear. Try to remove the emotion from your decision making no matter how caring or persistent they seem.
- Talk to an independent friend, relative or fair trading agency before you send any money. THINK TWICE before sending money to someone you have only recently met online or haven’t met in person.
- NEVER give credit card or online account details to anyone by email.
- Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Scammers can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam.
- If you agree to meet in person, tell family and friends where you are going. If this includes overseas travel, consider carefully the advice on www.smarttraveller.gov.au before making any plans.
- Where possible, avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer or international funds transfer. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
- If you think you have provided your account details to a scammer, contact your bank or financial institution immediately.
- Money laundering is a criminal offence: do not agree to transfer money for someone else.
Whenever I hear about these kinds of scams I always think of the email forward going around a few years back of someone who replied to the scam requesting the money be transferred to his camel as he was having a bit of a tax problem. Ever since then, I have to admit, I’ve been a little tempted to reply when I get these emails.
Have you ever considered replying to scam emails? Have you ever been genuinely duped? Did you receive the “sum1 paid me to kill you” text?
Tamsin Howse has written 180 posts.
Tamsin is a wife, stepmother and blogger with a passion for people and relationships, fashion and beauty, and an inability to successfully complete household tasks. Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of KiKi & Tea.
Follow on twitter: @TamsinHowse