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Monday, 27 July 2009

'Ignore this message and you will die'. Is the Brisbane text scam a response to the horrific killings in Sydney that claimed the lives of five members of the Lin family of Epping?

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) warned Australians earlier this month of the sinister scams, although it appears overseas scammers are now targeting Brisbane business owners within the Chinese community.

Police from the Asian Specialist Crime Unit are investigating the complaints as part of Operation Bionic and are examining links between the phone calls and text messages.

"The offenders ring and make demands for large amounts of money. Some attempt to explain why they need the money, but all end with them threatening very serious harm if the money is not paid," Superintendent Hogan said.

Min Lin, his wife Yun Li, their sons Henry (12) and Terry (9) and Mrs Lin's sister Irene Yin were found a week ago in their house, bludgeoned to death beyond recognition with a blunt object. Police do not believe the deaths were motivated by mere robbery and have reassured neighbours that they were "targeted".

In an interview with the grandparents of the surviving daughter, Brenda, who was on a school excursion in New Caledonia at the time of the attack, they said that Min was not involved in gambling. The family had had dinner at the grandparents' Merrylands home the night of the attack. Min had left the house at about 9pm and Yun Li followed an hour later with the boys.

There is no evidence of note at the crime scene and police have appealed to the public for information. News reports are thin. Today The Sydney Morning Herald announced blithely that police had taken DNA samples. Hardly surprising, let along noteworthy.

In the light of this vicious attack on a well-repected Chinese-Australian family, today's news of threatening SMS messages targeting Chinese Australians is not surprising. The Epping deaths will be on everyone's mind. It is a community ripe for this kind of callous exploitation.

If The Lin family were "targeted" by criminal thugs then who is next?

In addition to the phone calls, police have received complaints from six Queenslanders who have received text messages containing death threats.

The messages and phonecalls are intended to frighten recipients into providing money, credit card details and personal information to the scammer.

Perhaps Min Lin refused to cave in to a similar extortionist, someone wanting protection money for the favour of not robbing his Epping newsagency?

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