RALEIGH – A new text message scam 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.
How the Scam Works
You 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 irl. I’m back in town if you want to meet up this time, are you free?”
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 chat bot, 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.
How to Avoid Chat Bot Scams
- Ignore texts from strangers. 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.
- Never give 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.
If you’ve been the victim of a text message scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help expose scammers’ tactics so others won’t fall prey.