If you’re a Verizon customer who’s been getting mysterious spam text messages that look like they come from your own phone number, you’re not alone. Multiple Verizon customers have reported receiving similar messages this week, in which they’re encouraged to click an obscure link to receive a gift. The carrier says it’s working with police to stop the texts.
“Verizon is aware that bad actors are sending spam text messages to some customers which appear to come from the customers’ own number,” a Verizon representative said in an emailed statement. “Our team is actively working to block these messages, and we have engaged with US law enforcement to identify and stop the source of this fraudulent activity.”
A relative of a CNET team member got a text that matched the description of similar messages that were received by other Verizon customers and have been called out in social media and news reports. “Free Msg: Your bill is paid for March,” the message said. “Thanks, here’s a little gift for you.” The message included a cryptic link that made it impossible to know what it was about.
In some cases, the links in these texts direct people to what looks like a prompt to take a Verizon customer survey. “Dear Verizon customer, we would like to personally thank you for always paying your Verizon bills on time by giving you a Free Apple Watch Series7!” the message says. “All we ask from you is to answer a few quick questions about your recent experiences with Verizon’s services.” The message ends with a link to take the survey, encouraging the recipient to take it as soon as possible because “this exciting offer is only available today.”
The uptick in spam messages that mobile phone users are receiving comes after the US government doubled down on its fight against robocalls. Last year, the US Federal Communications Commission mandated that phone and cable companies implement a technology called Stir/Shaken that’s designed to curb the tide of spam calls by requiring voice providers to verify where calls are coming from. The move has, however, led criminals to explore other avenues to keep trying to scam mobile phone users.
“Stir/Shaken has shut down one avenue,” Clayton LiaBraaten, senior advisory board member at Truecaller, which makes a spam-blocking and caller ID app, told CNET in December. “But it’s making already very capable criminals even more sophisticated and sinister in their scams.”
A Verizon customer who received a spam message almost identical to the one received by the CNET employee’s relative posted about it in December on the Verizon Community blog, wondering if the message and link were some sort of phishing attempt. “We cannot confirm it is a valid link” a Verizon customer support representative said in a reply to the post. “We recommend not pressing on it.”
Spam texts like these are one of many forms of phishing, where hackers make use of human error to gain access to sensitive information, typically by preying on gaps in a victim’s tech savvy. Instead of a brute force attack, the cybercriminal poses as a legitimate organization or a familiar face — in this case texts from a victim’s own phone number — and issues a call to action that sounds either fun or urgent (which gives victims little time to think twice). Hackers can use a technique called “spoofing” to disguise their identity by deliberately falsifying the information transmitted to your caller ID display.
After you’re lured into a false sense of security and take the bait, the phisher nets your sensitive information. Phishing attempts aren’t exclusive to mobile phones. They can be disguised as quizzes or questionnaires on social media, too, with questions designed to trick you into revealing info you might use to verify your accounts.
If you receive a mysterious text message encouraging you to click on a link, verify the origin of the message before taking any further action, even if the contact seems legitimate — including your own phone number.
An alleged scammer has gone missing in Turkey with 350 million Dogecoin valued at nearly $119.14 million, as per local media reports.
What Happened: Turgut V. organized one-on-one meetings and promoted “Dogecoin mining” at luxurious venues in order to lure investors and build relationships with them, reported Interesting Engineering, citing Turkey’s TV100.
Post the meetings, Turgut V. gathered the investors on a Telegram channel and got them to transfer DOGE to the allegedly fraudulent scheme.
An investor told TV100 that they were promised 100% returns in 40 days.
At press time, DOGE traded 0.71% higher at $0.29 over 24 hours.
Why It Matters: Reportedly 1,500 people made transfers to Turgut V.’s operations in the course of three months on the promise of regular dividends before they were abruptly shut down.
Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the incident and banned Turgut V. from leaving Turkey.
As per TV 100, 11 other suspects are also under investigation, which includes the romantic partner of Turgut V.
Dogecoin, often discussed by Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk, has captured the imaginations of many retail investors, a fact not unnoticed by scam artists.
Three cars, three teams wearing hidden cameras, and one car rental company location with a long history of complaints and overcharging. What happens when we send in our Marketplace team with some savvy consumers to fight back against those extra fees?