Beware: Text Scam Targeting Equestrians
I Watched As Scammers Tried To Trick A Show Jumping Trainer
It seems like every day we hear how criminals have come up with a new way to part us from our money or steal our identity. No longer isolated to phone calls, scammers are posting rogue apps on Facebook, putting malware links in Tweets and sending phishing e-mails.
Since many of us use our cell phones as our primary way of communicating, it’s no surprise that they’ve moved on to text-based scams.
Last night, I was with a show jumping trainer who received a text from (what appeared to be) a potential new client.
Unlike SMiShing attacks (SMS Text Phishing) that I had read about, this was clearly an individual that wanted to engage in a dialogue.
The text was from a local area code and simply asked, “Do you do horse training and sales?” and “Do you accept credit cards?”
Since this is not an unusual request, the trainer replied, “Yes, how can I help you?”
The messages went on to explain how the sender had two horses that he wanted in training for show jumping. Pictures of two horses were attached.
The messages asked about price for boarding and training.
When the Trainer asked to have a person-to-person conversation about goals and objectives for the horses and rider, the messenger explained that he was “suffering from lung cancer and couldn’t speak loudly”.
At that point, the trainer became suspicious and said she was “uncomfortable” with the communication.
The messenger did not push. He simply said, “okay, have a nice day”.
At that point, I became curious. As a journalist, I wanted to how this scam played out so I could contact law enforcement and warn others.
I took the cell phone and assumed the trainer’s position in the text dialogue.
“Can you send me proof of ID and credit card?”, I wrote.
Sure enough, the messenger immediately responded with photo id (an image of a current driver’s license from Nevada) along with complete credit card details.
Then, the messenger explained that his cell phone battery was dying and he needed to continue the dialogue from a different cell number.
Moments later, the dialogue started up again from a different number (same local area code). Had I just been passed off to “The Closer”?
I was directed to charge the card for $5,900, apparently the card’s limit.
Next, the messenger explained that the driver bringing the horses would need to be paid $3,000 for hauling.
Simultaneously, I called law enforcement and explained what was happening.
I told the officer that I had someone texting me with photo ID and credit card details that I believed were stolen.
Rather than asking for details, the officer told me, “Treat it like a prank phone call. Do not give out any information and hang up.”
“But don’t you want to know about the stolen ID and credit card?” I asked.
“No. This happens all the time. Just hang up.”
I asked the messenger how I was supposed to pay the driver $3,000.
The messenger wrote, “Go ahead and charge my card now. I will send his account information once you send me the receipt. I need to rest now. I want to make sure you charge my card before going to bed.”
Of course, I was not going to process the card. I told the messenger that it didn’t go through.
He asked what merchant I used for credit card processing and if I sent him the invoice, he could process it on his end.
At that point, I told him that I had contacted law enforcement and told them that the credit card was stolen.
He insisted it was not stolen. He told ME “this is getting too suspicious” and he was “going to all his bank about this.”
Bottom line, don’t give out any personal or banking information online (email, text, etc.). Remember, thieves can even make it look like you are communicating with a trusted online contact when in fact, they’ve hijacked an email account or cell number.
If you are not 100% sure of who you are communicating with, stop!!. Always use secure, proper channels or you may find yourself dealing with a big problem.