SYDNEY, July 23 (UPI) -- Australian police said Monday a text message sent to thousands of Australians claiming they have 48 hours to live unless they hand over $5,000 is a scam.
The messages started showing up on people's mobile phones and email accounts Sunday, CNN reported.
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 directs the recipient to contact them via an e-mail address.
Police said the messages are fake and should be deleted.
"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."
Experts said the scammer may have gotten some information on the recipients from social networking Web sites, such as Facebook, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
"A lot of people don't realize the information they post online, such as Facebook, in Facebook it's out there forever, even if you retract a comment it's never fully deleted. So you really want to limit the amount of personal information you post," said Dr. Jarrod Trevathan, a lecturer with the School of Information and Communication Technology at Griffith University.
Police said they have all the information they need and don't need any more reports about the message.