Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve received a number of calls from people (friends, family, clients, and a couple concerned wives) who ask me about a text message they received – supposedly from a girl who wants to hookup.
The messages read something like this: hey hun I’m town again I’m here for the holiday break we should definitely get together while I’m out here.This scam is so new that there is almost no information on the internet about it in particular. There is this thread over at Reddit. That’s about it so far.
In the text message, the “girl” sends a photo similar to the one above (there are variants – so far I’ve seen two of them with the same girl) along with a caption (which also varies, but is) similar to:
hey hun I’m town again I’m here for the holiday break we should definitely get together while I’m out here.
Note the imperfect English and poor grammar, a red flag for a foreign scam.
Most of the investigators at our agency are former federal agents. We have seen just about every scam, since they’re usually just variations of old, time-tested ones. Accordingly, this scam is “new” in it’s level of sophistication, but it’s actually a variant of a romance scam.
This is a phishing scheme, or with regard to text (SMS) messages, it’s now called smishing: The perpetrator is providing bait (the promise of sex) in order to extort the mark into providing money or personal data. It’s usually money they’re after.
This scam is actually very similar to an email-based phishing scam run by a man named Olayinka Ilumsa Sunmola. In 2017, Sunmola was sentenced to 27 years in prison for mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and interstate extortion. And if you want to understand how this scam works, the Better Business Bureau has Sunmola’s entire email script online. I highly recommend reading it.mobile device usage first surpassed desktop usage. Scammers have adapted their means to fit the omnipresence of smart devices. What really strikes me about this adaptation is not necessarily the immediacy with which the message can be delivered and read, but the potential damage it can do to families.
Imagine the wife of a loyal, loving and dedicated husband finding this in his cell phone after decades of marriage. Like I said in the intro, I’ve had two such wives call me so far. Usually, I’m the guy they call when they find real evidence of an affair, not fake evidence.
If you receive this text message, don’t reply to it. That only marks you as a real person that can targeted in the future. Your device likely has the ability to report a message as spam, and/or block the sender. Do that. Then delete the message.
While an anti-phishing act was established back in 2005, there is often very little that law enforcement can do to combat these attacks.
Unfortunately, I have the unsettling feeling that this is only the beginning of a much larger trend of personal attacks on individual Americans.
Happy new year. Welcome to 2019.
This story was originally posted on December 29, 2018.