Monday, July 19, 2010

Busting Out Text Scams!

Scammers are everywhere. And one of their newly discovered playground is the world of SMS (short messaging system) or text messaging. Scamming through text is a clever way of stealing money from people. It's so easy and safe (for scammers' part).

Text messaging is not a much secured way of communication. Anyone who knows your number can easily send a scam message to you. And there's no way for you to figure out the real identity of the sender. Because there is no existing law that requires prepaid subscribers to register their SIM (subscriber identification module). Scammers can easily buy SIMs and change their mobile number. In this way, they can trick more people and still hide their identity.

In this article I'll be giving some tips, not how to know the real identity of the scammer, but how to distinguish genuine text messages from scam ones. It is really hard or almost impossible to determine the identity of a text scammer, but it's so easy to verify if a message is scam or not.

We will bust out two of the most common format of text scams. Let's begin!

1. The Promo Scam

"Congratulations! You won $100,000. Your number was luckily drawn in our Monthly promo draw last July 1st. Please call on this number and look for Atty. Smith for details on how to claim your prize."

Promo scam is a classical format of text scams. This is the first type of text scam that circulated in the SMS world. A lot of people were victimized by this scam. It's because of a simple reason; everybody wants to gain instant money. $100,000 is a huge amount of money to pass up. People who received this kind of message got so excited that they forget to verify if it's true.

Promo scam works like this:

  1. The victim will call that number to know the details on how to claim the fake prize.

  2. The scammer will ask the victim to send the details of his credit card and/or bank account so they can send the fake prize on that account.

  3. Instead of sending the prize, the scammer will quickly access the victim's account and steal all the money of the victim.

  4. After sweeping the victim's bank account, the scammer will buy a new SIM and change his number so that the victim cannot contact the scammer anymore when the victim realizes that he was scammed!

*Small time scammers will only ask for cell phone load instead of bank account details. When the scammer got enough amount of load from the victim, he will then change his number.

So here are some tips on what to do if you receive this kind of message:

  1. Try to remember if you have ever joined any text promos. If you can't remember anything, then the text that you received is a 99% sure text scam.

  2. Look for the promo code. All legitimate promo has their own unique code given by the government. Scammers are genius. They knew this fact. That's why they also put fake promo codes in their scam messages. If you see a promo code in a text message of this kind, try to verify it by calling the government department that handle all promos in your country.

  3. Investigate the sender's number. Legitimate text promos use special numbers. They can be three to six digit numbers. If the sender's number looks like an ordinary mobile number, then it's 100% scam.

2. The Roaming Scam

"Hello guys! How are you there? I send a package full of stuffs for all of you. Miss you all! By the way, this is my new roaming number. Contact me here if you have any problem."

The roaming scam targets people who have friends or relatives outside the country. This kind of text scam is somewhat a psychological trick. It triggers the emotional weakness of humans. When a person has special someone abroad then he received a text message like this, he tends to be too excited and cheerful that he started to assume that the sender of the message is his love one.

The amount of money that a scammer can get from this kind of scam depends on how quick before the victim realizes that he was being tricked. It ranges from several days up to a couple of months. Scammers usually ask for cell phone loads. They pretend to have a hard time loading up their mobile accounts in their imaginary country. Sometimes they even ask for money or other stuffs. You can't blame people who are victimized by this trick. Because if you're in the same situation, you will also give everything that your love one asked just to make him feel better while living in a lonely country. Scammers who use this trick are also from the same country as the victim. That's why they emphasizes that they are using a roaming number. So that the victim will not wonder why does the sender's number look like an ordinary local cell phone number.

If you receive this kind of text and you really have a friend or relative that is outside the country, these are the things that you must do to avoid being scammed:

  1. Never assume that the sender is your love one. Never reply a text message that attempts to guess the name of the sender. Remember, scammers send scam messages to random numbers. So they don't know if you really have relatives abroad. Sending a reply like, "Joe is this you?" is already a big success for the scammer. Aside from confirming that you do have relatives or friends abroad, you also gave them an instant identity. The scammer will now begin to pretend that he is the real "Joe" that you know. You just made the scammer's job easier. Instead of guessing a name, you should ask the sender his name. If he replied a name that you didn't know, then it's a sure scam. Usually, scammers don't reply anymore if you ask them to give a name. Because the probability of picking a right name, is too low.

  2. Contact your relative or friend's old number. If the scammer luckily guessed a right name, then you must verify it. You can contact the old number of your friend or relative, or you can send an e-mail to him if he has an e-mail account.

  3. Call that number. If your love one doesn’t have an e-mail account or his old number is not working anymore, the only way to verify the sender's identity is by calling him. Listen to his voice. Try to analyze the way he speaks. And check it yourself if he sounds like the real person. If he doesn’t, then he was just trying to scam you. But usually, if it is a scam, the scammer will never try to answer your call.


car donation long beach said...

All type of scams have the same effect. They trick people and they think of different ways on how they make their job successful. This kind of activity should be busted forever!

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