The message that arrived on Monday, March 28 at 3:51 p.m. seemed innocent at first.
“Mr. Steven,” it read, “I am very sorry, after our communication and understanding during this period, I feel that we are not suitable in some ways.”
That’s weird, I thought, must be the wrong number. But who was this mysterious Mr. Steven? What was the nature of the disagreement? What did Mr. Steven do to hurt this person? I was curious – but not enough to respond.
Several weeks later, I received another text, this time from someone named “Amy” asking about “a spot for coffee.” A few days after that, “Irene from Vietnam” arrived to ask if I was still living in New York. And then “Sofia” called me “Laura” and asked about a party we both attended over the weekend.
These “wrong number” texts are clearly the work of some cheater, but honestly I don’t really care. To me, they are more sublime than annoying, alluding to a possible missed connection or mistaken identity. The fact that they’re not openly soliciting money from me or just outright phishing helps take some of the sting out. They’re certainly more tolerable than the torrent of emails I’ve received from hapless Democratic politicians begging for more money. Roe vs. Wade is being reversed.
I’m 100 percent sure this mis-numbered text is some sort of scam, but I appreciate that criminals are ultimately selling everything from selling car warranties to pic.twitter.com/ltSoJmpwGz
— Casey Newton (@casey newton) 2 May 2022
Max Reed in his most recent substack wrote about this phenomenon of “wrong number” text spam, calling it “a rich world, animated in detail and alive with mystery,” and I agree. Spam is more widespread than ever – a recent study found that Americans receive an average of 3.7 scam calls and 1.5 scam texts Everyday – And practically it’s all normal and forgettable.
This is not a new style of spam. And maybe that’s what makes it more harmful, but I feel like I can’t do too much about it.
Read takes a deeper dive – I encourage you to read his essay – on what is likely the “romance scam”, also known in China as the “pig butcher” scam. They play on the recipients’ loneliness, sympathy, or general ignorance to implicate them in some sort of fraud, usually resulting in them being scammed with a bunch of money. We all love a good scam story, but honestly, these types of scams are no good as they mostly prey on low income people.
Their way of doing this is quite simple. The sender is implied to be wealthy — or at least outgoing, sociable, and fun — which helps draw the mark in a whole world of fake characters and fraudulent incidents. There are charity galas, steak dinners, and high-end business travel.
But note that the exact opposite is likely, as the scammer is “most likely to be an abused and captive worker operating multiple phones and multiple people from a compound run by shady gambling rings somewhere in Southeast Asia.” Trying to cheat.”
It’s a boring thing to do, of course, but if I had to choose, I’d take these weird plagiarized text messages over any appeal to renew my car’s extended warranty. (And they’re certainly better than your own phone number for those spam messages, like ledgeK Chris Welch reported.)
If you’re not like me and want your phone to be spam-free, the Better Business Bureau recommends that you do three things to stop them: ignore messages; block numbers; And never give your personal information to strangers. ledge Also published a detailed guide on how to avoid these types of messages completely. It all sounds pretty obvious, but then again, this is America, where a TikTok video about “generalized scams” went so viral that people are begging it to stop.
These false message texts point to a growing frustration among the fraudsters of the world. They’re running out of gullible boomers to cheat, so their tactics are getting more sophisticated – or at least annoying. I, for one, really can’t gather too much outrage about it. It seems like a small price to pay for having all the knowledge in the world in your pocket.