A NORTHERN Rivers woman has been targeted by a strange, threatening con known as the "Hitman" scam.
The 62-year-old Richmond Valley woman, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted The Northern Star to warn others of the unnerving text-message-based rip-off, which threatens recipients with death.
The texts, or sometimes emails, often lead to requests for cash to cancel a bogus "hit", but the woman contacted authorities before any such escalation.
She received the first of three strange texts on November 10 and the last on November 19, before changing her number late last week.
"It was 10pm at night and my mobile went off. I saw a text that said 'Yooooooooooo', so I sent back a text asking who it was and saying they had the wrong number," she said.
The next message shocked the woman, who felt her privacy invaded by the infiltration of her rarely used prepaid mobile, which had a private number.
"It said: 'I am future you! In exactly 42 days you will die. You must eat the onion in order to survive. Don't ask me what I mean, in due time, you will know'," she said.
Although her gut instinct was to ignore the message, she felt she had to respond to find out more about the cryptic communication.
"The message back was: 'I meant what I said. I'm not threatening you at all, we clear? I know a guy, who knows another guy whose mother is dating a guy who knows a guy. Don't question it'."
"I felt very unsafe. This all affected me badly, even though it was going through my head that it was probably a scam," the woman said.
The woman, who has a heart condition, said she spent days in bed unwell due to the stress caused.
"I made phone calls to the Lismore Police Station, spoke with a female constable. I was told they had no facilities to deal with cybercrime and advised to delete the text and to forget about it," she said.
"The next morning on (the) 11th, I phoned the Casino Police Station and spoke with a female constable, who gave a number for the Australian Federal Police Cybercrime unit."
The cybercrime unit is investigating.
You can report scams to the ACCC by calling 1300 795 995 or via the report a scam page at http://www.scamwatch.gov.au. Noting the text and phone number of the sender can help in any investigation of the scam.
If you're concerned about your physical safety, contact your local police.
The 'Hitman' Scam
The scam surfaced in 2008.
Scammers claim to be hitmen hired to kill the text/email recipients unless they send cash.
Messages often request a sum of money and personal details.
Delete the text/email immediately.
Do not forward or respond to the text. Scammers will escalate their intimidation and attempts to get money.
Never provide any personal details in a text, email or over the phone - scammers will use details to commit identity fraud or steal money.
If you've transferred money or provided your bank details to a scammer, contact your bank and the police immediately.