Did you receive a text from someone called Sarah asking you to respond urgently? Don't fret. It's another phishing scam looking to con unsuspecting people out of £20.
Cyber criminals are sending texts to people and are persuading them to respond by appealing to their emotions.
The 'scam' texts are at times so full of emotion and persuasive that recipients of such texts can't help but get busy responding to them. Criminals behind the scam are frequently using a fictitious character named Sarah- a very common name in the UK- to send texts to targeted victims and luring them to respond.
People have reported receiving texts from a Sarah who is apparently in distress and wants them to respond via text to help her out of her situation. 'These messages can quite easily evolve into more elaborate scenarios and are designed to play on your emotions and get you to react quickly without thinking. If you receive one of these text messages, don't send any codes or money, delete it and report it to us,' says Action Fraud.
Here's an example of the texts being sent by criminals as part of the scam:
'Hi its sarah. I need you to do me a favour if possible. I had a small accident & broke my fibula & left elbow. Can you text me back once you get this message x.'
Here's a longer and a more frequent one:
'Mum i did try and phone from some else phone signal is really bad, there has been a terrible car accident. I’m in the ICU ward in hospital my phone ain’t switching on and needs charging.
'I’m on this mobile number please make sure you reply to this number, my friend didn’t make it he died before we got to hospital and his sister’s fighting for her life. Mum i had my seatbelt on, i’ve got a head injury but i’m ok.
'Going into Xray to be seen, please make sure you message me back and don’t phone cause mobile phones aren’t allowed here so please text in case I’m in there.
'I will go outside and phone you mum its really bad i need you to do me favour before it’s too late, as soon as you get my text please reply by text i need you to do me a favour mum, time is running out and i need you to do something mum.'
Texts like these are sure to make a lot of recipients anxious and willing to respond to know more about those in need. According to Action Fraud, once people are responding to such texts, they are being asked by the scammers to purchase a mobile phone top-up code for £20 and text it back to the same number. Once the fraudsters have the code, they can get the cash credited to their own mobile phone account.
Text message scams have often been used by criminals to either con recipients out of their money or to gain personal and sensitive information about users. In the recent past, scammers have sent fake bank texts, asked consumers of major services to fill out their details in malicious websites, and have even sent texts as if they were sent by government departments.