“Hey, is this Charles? its Amanda,,, we chatted on tndr before when I came up to visit my aunt but we never met in person.. I’m back in town rn if you wanted 2 actually go out this time, r you free?” If that slick opening line sounds familiar, you’re not alone—my roommate, a handful of acquaintances I follow on Instagram, and literally hundreds of other people have been subjected to a virtually identical out-of-the-blue text message from an unknown number.
Responding to “Amanda” elicits a few compliments and a photo of a blonde white woman wearing glasses who apparently thinks “snapping pictures” is “sohot,” a scenario that’s obviously geared towards something more than a friendly conversation. So what’s up with this “girl,” and how did this many guys give her the wrong number—or, rather, what kind of scam is being run here?
OK, this clearly isn’t real. So what’s going on?
If your BS radar is going off, you’ve got the keen instincts of a seasoned internet user: This is, in fact, a big ol’ scam.
According to UK-based cyber security news outlet That’s Nonsense, the goal of the scam is to trick people into paying to register for “dating/adult/escort websites” in order to see nude photos from Down Bad Amanda—a pretty transparent scheme, and one that’s easy to dodge by simply not signing up or giving out your credit card information. The outlet cautioned, however, that the same “mistaken identity” method could be used by other romance scammers in the near future to “find vulnerable singles to scam out of money” in a more direct way.
I saw someone on TikTok say she thought she was being targeted for human trafficking because of these texts. Should I be freaked out?
No—or, at least, you should not be freaked out about the possibility of getting human trafficked because of a text message. Anti-conspiracy educator and trafficking survivor Jessica Dean, who goes by @bloodbathandbeyond on TikTok, regularly debunks trafficking misinfo and discussed this specific scam after she noticed a video from another user about this exact text exchange going viral:
“Sex traffickers aren’t really targeting complete strangers—and this would be a really stupid way to target somebody if they wanted to kidnap a complete stranger, because there would be evidence on your phone,” Dean said in her response video. “This just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for sex trafficking. Sex traffickers overwhelmingly target people they already know. Sometimes those are people they met online, but it’s usually a very slow grooming process—they get to know you, they get you to like them, and then they start asking you ‘certain favors.’”
What you might want to freak out about is how easily human trafficking panics are spread, and how widely misunderstood the mechanisms of human trafficking actually are.
Got it. So what do I do?
Basically, if you even responded in the first place, stop. Report and block this specific number—if you’ve already responded, the scammers on the other end of the exchange know your number is valid, so it’s the best way to avoid future contact. And if you get wonky, weird texts with suspicious links on a regular basis, look into how your mobile carrier filters out spam calls and texts, or consider paying for an app like Nomorobo or Robokiller that can do the heavy lift of blocking unknown numbers and robotexts—this article from PC Magazine has great suggestions to that effect.
And no matter what, go ahead and delete the thread—if you really want to see sexy pictures online, just head over to OnlyFans, where you can pay to see hot people with no deception involved.
Follow Katie Way on Twitter.