Karen arrived home after a long day at work. She had just settled in on the couch to watch her favorite television show when she heard her phone ping.
She had a message from an unknown number that read, “Hi.” Karen did not respond, she assumed they had the wrong number. A few minutes later, the number messaged her again saying, “It was great meeting you last week!” Karen decided to reply to let them know they had the wrong number.
“Just my luck,” the person replied, “She must have given me the wrong number. Well, what’s your name?” The person sent a picture of himself, as well. Karen felt bad for him and thought he seemed nice, so she continued to message him for the next few days.
It turned out they had a lot in common. He sent Karen a few cool websites to check out. They kept in touch and after a few weeks, he asked her for a favor. He needed an expensive medical treatment and was wondering if she could help pay for it. Karen was worried about her new friend and wired him the money. What she did not know was that she had fallen for a scam.
Did you spot the red flags?
- Wrong number scams are on the rise. They often start with a text message to a “wrong number” and include a picture of an attractive young person.
- The scammer sent Karen many unsolicited links to websites that were likely malicious.
- An emotional story was used to request money via wire transfer. This is a common method of exchange used by cybercriminals.
What you should know about this scam
Never send an unknown number money or personal details. Do not be fooled by a picture, as scammers often fake their identity.
Do not reply to text messages from unknown numbers. This will mark your number as “active” and will lead to an increase in calls and texts.
Social engineering attacks exploit human psychology. By relying on the natural tendencies of empathy, curiosity, trust, or even greed, cybercriminals are able to successfully carry out these scams.