RALEIGH — The Better Business Bureau of North Carolina is warning residents of a new text message scam involving a bot that lures victims into conversation using a “wrong number” text.
According to the BBB, the scam involves a text message 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 photos of “Amanda,” who appears to be a scantily-clad woman. However, as word gets out about this scam, scammers will change up names, backstory and photos, so it will not be the same every time.
If you continue to engage with the stranger, who is really a chat bot, eventually 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. Considering the dubious nature of this scam, you could be putting yourself at risk for fraudulent charges and identity theft.
Instead, the BBB recommends ignoring all text messages from strangers. If you receive a text from someone you don’t know, simply don’t reply, as it is the safest route. If you engage with a scammer, even briefly, they could mark your number as active and you could receive even more shady texts in the future.
The BBB also recommends blocking numbers that appear to come from scammers and reminds people to never give out personal information to strangers, including your credit card or banking information, full name, home address, social security number or other sensitive details.