JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Scam artists are targeting Northeast Florida cellphone users with text messages designed to steal your money. We asked the president of the local Better Business Bureau to explain how they work so you don’t fall for it.
Scammers scan through legitimate employment websites online to find contact information for anyone seeking a job.
Tom Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau Northeast Florida, said they pretend to be a hiring manager.
“They send you a check to buy equipment (for the new job) and you’re supposed to send the money off to their supplier and they’ll have it (the equipment) shipped to you,” he explained.
He said the trick is the check ends up bouncing after you’ve already sent the supplier money.
People tend to assume if they deposit a check in their bank account, that the bank would know immediately if it’s bogus. Stephens said it doesn’t work that quickly.
“The bank will not know if it’s good or bad until it goes through the entire check routing system which is upward of a week and then it comes back bounced, but by then you’ve already sent the money,” Stephens said.
Stephens said his office has received nearly a dozen complaints from local people about this scam in the last two weeks.
‘Innocent’ text scam
Scammers are now sending text messages that appear to be a mistake, sent to the wrong person. They are counting on you to respond and that’s how they get you talking.
“You will get a text that was supposed to be sent to someone else like, ‘Hi! Jim,’ but your name is Bob,” said Stephens. “It’s scammers trying to start a conversation with you. They’re gonna work that for weeks or months sometimes and usually, it’s a cryptocurrency scam.”
Stephens said they convince you to trust them and invest money, which you end up losing.
So far this year, Stephens said, scammers have bilked Americans out of $42 million.
Amazon text message scam
There are two scams involving text messages that appear to come from Amazon but do not. One tells you there is a problem with your membership renewal and directs you to a link for more information.
The other text tells you someone is trying to access your account from Bangladesh and also includes a link that is supposed to provide more details.
Stephens said, do not click on the link!
“Clicking on the link will most likely download some type of malware, which they can use to follow you, maybe access your accounts even use keystroke copy to get passwords and things like that,” said Stephens.
Car advertising scam
This scam has been around for a while but is back in the area. It involves a text message offer to pay drivers to place advertisements on the outside of their car.
Stephens said it’s nothing but a bogus check scam.
“What they’re going to do is they’re going to send you a check for your first payment, and you’re supposed to deposit that check. They’re going to ask you to send payment for the car wrap to the advertiser and the advertiser is supposed to have the car wrapped,” he explained. “Of course, the check bounces. The scammer is the car wrap company who then keeps your money.
“The best bet is to not trust anything that you do not initiate,” Stephens said. “That’s probably the best advice that I can give you.”