Wrong Number Text May Be Scam

John Lister's picture

The Better Business Bureau has warned the public to ignore text messages that appear to be wrong numbers. It says it's the first step in an ongoing scam using automated chat bots to scam people.

The scam is not particularly sophisticated in principle but uses automation to play the numbers game. In the current form it tries to take advantage of base desires, though the BBB warns the format could change.

According to the warning, one example of the opening text message reads:

"Hey is this John? It's Amanda. We chatted on Tinder before when I came to visit my cousin but we never met if I recall. I'm back in town if you want to meet up this time, are you free?" (Source: bbb.org)

If the recipient replies in any way, the chat bot begins an exchange of messages. The idea is to use automated responses that might sound plausible in response to what the victim has said, but are designed to steer the conversation in a particular way.

Credit Card Details The Target

In this case the idea is that, despite the wrong number, "Amanda" proves open to getting to know the recipient better. Eventually she encourages the victim to sign up to a dating or adult website where she supposedly has explicit photographs.

The scam isn't so much to collect a subscription payment but rather to gather the victim's credit card number, potentially to sell to other scammers who are particularly interested in card belonging to proven gullible people.

Like most such scams, the proportion of people who respond to each escalating step (responding, pursuing a conversation, signing up to the site) falls dramatically. However, because the "conversation" is automated, the scammers can afford to cast their net wide.

Story May Change

The BBB notes the key here is the approach rather than the specific story of "Amanda". It says the identity, story and accompanying photographs will likely change whenever "word gets out" about a scam.

It advises people to simply ignore any message from an stranger, even if it appears to be a legitimate case of a wrong number. It adds that people should block any number they suspect to be involved in a scam and to never give personal information to somebody they haven't met in person. (Source: nbc15.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Would you reply to an apparent wrong number? Do you think you could tell a chat bot from a real person writing messages? Should people worry about scams like this or is it only suckers who fall for it?

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Comments

OadbyPC's picture

In the UK, banks/government agencies etc will frequently ring you and ask for confidential info to prove your ID before they'll talk to you, often from withheld numbers! Then they advise the public not to give out such info!! It is infuriating!!! Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to devise some system whereby I can prove my ID to a caller without giving them info that would allow them to steal my ID etc??

russoule's picture

it would seem to me that if an organization initiates the call, it is best to ignore that call and make contact with whomever you have been using at that organization. how does a phone call "prove" it is the bank, government,etc.? by simply stating "This is so-and-so organization.' in that same vein is the organization that says words to the effct of "We haver this as your ID and this as your cell-phone and this as your SS#. Can you please verify that information is correct." BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

OadbyPC's picture

Unfortunately ignoring calls is impractical as government agents here in the UK wield enormous power and can, and do, threaten you with fines of up to £10k and imprisonment if you refuse to co-operate.

There is no such thing as a democracy on this planet but here in the UK, in the "mother of parliaments and birthplace of democracy" (where democracy means electing 1 of 2 incompetent, often corrupt, imbeciles once every 5 years) we are even less democratic than undemocratic states such as the USA and thus even less free, and powerless against the government.