March 22, 2022
Rockford, IL – March 21st – A new text message scam is sweeping the nation and seems so innocent that it’s tempting to reply. But con artists are using phony “wrong number” texts to lure victims into conversation and falling for a scam. There have been widespread concerns on Facebook and other social media platform posts that this may actually involve sex trafficking. At this point, law enforcement and government don’t think that’s true, but it hasn’t stopped that type of social media post from being shared over 250,000 times as of Friday.
Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau says the way the scam works is people receive a text that reads something like this: “Hey is this, John? It’s Amanda. We chatted on Tinder before when I came to visit my cousin, but we never met. I’m back in town if you want to meet up this time, are you free?”
Horton adds “When I received one of these texts, I immediately thought it was a variation on other similar scams. And then we started hearing from others including other BBB’s nationwide, so I wanted to alert people because it’s probably coming here. My text stated that we knew each other from the past and she was following up. The text said…what’s up, you probably don’t remember me, but I was willing to help you have a little excitement today as the last time” With a picture of an attractive woman.”
Other examples from the BBB: If you reply to a text like this, even with a polite, “Sorry, wrong number,” the stranger responds anyway, seemingly ignoring your answer. Usually, you’ll receive a few compliments and some photos of “Amanda,” who appears to be a scantily clad blonde woman. However, as the word gets out about this scam, scammers will change up the names, backstory, and photos.
If you continue to engage with the stranger, who is really a chatbot, it tries to trick you into registering for dating or adult websites. Your new “friend” will encourage you to sign up for a specific website to see more explicit photos, which may involve offering up your credit card number. Considering the dubious nature of this scam, if you hand over your credit card information at any point, you could be putting yourself at risk for fraudulent charges and identity theft.
It’s obvious that the scammers are trying to elicit a response, such as sympathy, to this woman for receiving a fake number from a friend, but we need to remind consumers that appearances can be deceiving.”
How to avoid chatbot scams
- Ignore texts from strangers. Strangers on the internet can pretend to be anyone. Question motives behind both solicited and unsolicited messages. If you receive a text from someone you don’t know, simply don’t reply. It’s the safest route. If you engage with a scammer, even briefly, they will mark your number as active and you could receive even more shady texts in the future.
- Block numbers that appear to come from scammers. Unsolicited texts that look like they come from a chat bot or that ask you to click on suspicious links are probably not safe. Block these numbers to prevent scammers from contacting you through them again.
- Protect your personal information to strangers. Never share your credit card or banking information, your full name, home address, or social security number with someone you never met in person. Remember that any photo you upload on social media can be stolen and used by a scammer.
- Check for Spelling and Grammatical Errors – While not all scammers have poor grammar, many fraudsters do.
- Be Skeptical - Strangers on the internet can pretend to be anyone. Question motives behind both solicited and unsolicited messages.
For more information If you have spotted a scam, whether or not you fell victim, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report helps expose scammer tactics and boost consumer awareness. Check out BBB.org or follow us @ChicagoBBB on social media. Read the BBB Tip: Spot the red flags of fake text messages.