Have you been getting strange text messages from people who aren’t your contacts? They’ll tell you you’re late for a dinner date or a business meeting. Many times, they’re addressed to a name that isn’t yours.
You may be tempted to respond — at least to let them know they have the wrong number.
You may not want to.
“These scam artists are becoming much more sophisticated,” said Bill Boisvenue, a cyber security expert with B.S.C. Solutions Group based in Brampton.
CityNews talked with several people who’ve received these messages, many said they started within the past few weeks.
“They send a text message and say ‘hey: we were supposed to go to a restaurant or a bar tonight’, I’m thinking, who are you?” said Diane Persad.
I’ve also been getting several in recent days. One reads: ‘Are your free tomorrow for golf George?’ I wasn’t and my name isn’t George.
For the purpose of this story, I responded, so you don’t have to. The texter asked where I was from, I said Toronto and after a few minutes the person responded by saying they visited Toronto in 2019 and went to one of the N.B.A. finals games for the Toronto Raptors.
“They’re trying to establish a very personal connection with you and use that to gain your trust,” Boisvenue said.
After we went back and forth in the text exchange, the person wanted me to discuss cryptocurrency opportunities. Then, the person asked that we move the conversation off text and on to WhatsApp.
“Messaging apps like that have end-to-end encryption which means the communication is kept private. They’ll be dealing directly with you and it's easy to hide that information from prying eyes like your bank or other investigators,” Boisvenue explained.
I didn’t go that far. I also didn’t divulge any other information. I then stopped the conversation.
“If you’ve never invested in crypto before do you think investing with someone who found you via text message is where you should start?” Boisvenue asked. “They may have been looking to get your banking credentials or your credit card information. If they can’t get money from you, they are happy to harvest your credentials and sell them.”
You’re best bet, don’t respond.
“It’s very Canadian to respond to a text to let them know they have the wrong number, after all, you don’t want ‘George’ to miss his golf date. But it’s probably wise just to block, delete and move on.”
Besides not responding, you can also report these texts by forwarding them to the number 7726.
“That will go to your carrier and they will investigate. They could block that spam number for everybody else and maybe the investigation goes even further,” Boisvenue said. “They could end up shutting down a website by involving police, who can say.”
I blocked the number, we’ll see if I get more.