Police issue warning after death-threat text message is sent to thousands in Australia

death threat text message is sent to thousands of australians crimeThousands of Australians awoke Monday morning to find a sinister text message on their phone threatening to kill them unless they paid AUS$5000 ($5140).

“Sum1 paid me to kill you get spared, 48 hours to pay $5000,” the message began. “If you inform the Police or anybody, death is promised…Email me now.” A Yahoo email address was given, though it has since been disabled.

Speaking at a press conference about the incident, detective superintendent Brian Hay of the Queensland Police Service urged recipients of the mail to ignore it. “Do not respond. Delete it immediately. And don’t panic, because that’s what they prey upon,” Hay told reporters.

He believes it was the work of a highly organized gang located overseas and not of someone working alone. “All our past experience tells us when we’ve seen these frauds occur previously that the money has always gone overseas,” the detective superintendent said.

“The reality is this is not a random event, this is organized crime, it’s not one person just having a crack at something. They’ve done their research, they’ve acquired their contact lists, they’ve paid for the distribution of the text messages. This is not a single person, this is an organization.”

death threat text message is sent to thousands of australians

Hay said the scale of the crime showed that “the crooks have an extraordinary quantity of Australian consumer data that they’re exploiting.” He added, “I’ve never seen it to this scale.”

Speaking of the criminals responsible for the chilling message, Hay said, “They rely upon your fear to not think logically, but to respond in the manner in which they want you to. I would suspect that people have already fallen victim to this fraud.”

Hay described the perpetrators as “psychopaths,” adding, “They don’t care in any way whatsoever [about] the anxiety, the fear, the detriment they cause to any person. They simply want your money and they’ll do anything to get it.”

At the time of the press conference Hay wasn’t aware of anyone who had paid up, but said he was concerned that senior citizens, people new to the Internet or mobile phones, and anyone not used to getting many messages on their phone may be vulnerable to the scam.

[Image: alexskopje / Shutterstock]

Web

Google’s updated Santa Tracker entertains and teaches coding throughout December

Google's Santa Tracker is in its fifteenth year and is back again with even more features. You can have fun with more than 20 games, learn about different holiday traditions around the world, and enjoy some festive animations.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Computing

Miss AIM? These are the best desktop chat clients to use today

Desktop chat clients are far from dead. In fact, they're currently enjoying something of a renaissance. So, which one should you be using? We take a peek at the best chat clients for teams, gamers and mainstream web surfers.
Mobile

Free yourself! How to unlock a phone from the icy hands of your wireless carrier

Do you want to know how to unlock a phone through your carrier or a third-party service like DoctorSIM? Regardless of which way you want to go, we've compiled a list of requirements and methods for doing so.
Mobile

The best weather apps for the iPhone

Don't rely solely on your local meteorologist to stay up to date on the weather. Take matters into your own hands with one of these weather apps, each of which brings something unique to the table.
Wearables

The $200 TicWatch C2 smartwatch is now being sold in the U.S. and U.K.

Digital well-being and disconnecting from your phone is one of 2018's big trends. Mobvoi wants you to think about its TicWatch C2 smartwatch as a great way to help you use your phone less.
Mobile

The Palm has been revived, and is now available in the U.S. and U.K.

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. The Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon for $350.
Mobile

Yes, we really are getting a special McLaren edition of the OnePlus 6T

OnePlus has announced a partnership with McLaren F1, emphasizing a shared interest in speed. The phone company is known for producing special edition devices. Here's what we know about the OnePlus 6T Mclaren Edition.
Deals

Simplify your life with one of these wireless smartphone charger deals

Banish nightly cable fumbling with a wireless smartphone charger. If your smartphone is compatible with wireless charging, the simplicity of placing it on a pad is a beautiful thing. Wireless chargers are also excellent gifts for coworkers.
Mobile

Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.