Carrie was perusing the Burnaby NOW website recently when she suddenly felt all the blood drain out of her body.
That’s what happens when someone puts a name to your pain.
Carrie (not her real name – she’s too embarrassed to let people she got scammed) was a victim of a text message scam known as the “Amazon raffle scam.”
“It was weird to know there’s an actual name on it,” Carrie said.
The scam – also known as the “fitness watch text” or the “Apple Watch raffle scam” – sees a congratulatory text message pop up on consumers’ phones, claiming they’ve won Airpods, an Apple Watch or “some other enticing prize from Amazon,” according to the Better Business Bureau. The text message also includes instructions to click a suspicious link to arrange delivery of the item.
The bogus raffle and the suspicious link are part of a phishing con, to trick people into sharing account credentials as well as personal and financial information, the BBB said.
“I feel violated,” Carrie said. “It seemed too good to be true, but that didn’t stop me. I got greedy, I guess. Hopefully others will read this and learn.”
I haven't received this exact message, but some similar to it. It is intoxicating. Everybody likes a prize or the lure of some cash back. I definitely take an extra minute to consider it before deleting. These folks prey on the fear of missing out (FOMO).
The consumer watchdog said it’s received several reports to its Scam Tracker that mention text messages coming from the numbers 714-883-6385 and 714-507-5880. However, other numbers are also being used.
However, the text message is not from Amazon, and is part of what the BBB said is a long list of scams impersonating the online retail giant since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Last year, BBB received an overwhelming number of reports about scammers impersonating Amazon,” said Karla Laird, manager for community and public relations with the BBB Serving Mainland BC.
“The brand became the second-most impersonated organization in 2020 behind Service Canada. However, scammers are also sending similar texts impersonating other popular brands like Netflix, where they ask for your password, username, or a payment method.”
Laird said that, regardless of which organization the scammers claim to be, don’t reply or click on the link in the text message.
The BBB has also shared the following tips on how to deal with text message scams:
- Don’t believe every text you receive. As a general rule, companies cannot send you text messages unless you opt in to receive them. If you receive a text message from a company you have not given permission to contact you in this way, proceed with caution. In fact, any unsolicited text message should be considered a potential scam.
- Know the classic signs of a text scam. In most cases, the text message includes an unusual link and may promise a reward, threaten a punishment, or generally appear harmless because it seems to be coming from an individual or organization you recognize.
- Think before you click. Do not click on links in strange or suspicious text messages. This is likely an attempt to gain access to your personal information or install malware on your device.
- Confirm the information. If an offer seems strange, or too good to be true, contact the company directly by looking up their official contact information online. Call or email customer service to find out if the text message you received is legitimate.
- Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO”. Even if you realize the message is a scam, do not text back for any reason. Scammers may want you to text back to verify that your phone number is an active one. Instead, simply block the number so you won’t receive messages from it in the future.
- Double down on security. In the event the text message was not sent to you randomly, update the login credentials for your Amazon account. If you clicked on the link, do a security sweep for viruses or any malicious software on your device.
- Report any encounters with a scam. Share your scam experiences to help warn and protect others at BBB Scam Tracker.
- With files from Kirsten Clarke, Richmond News