People across Ireland are reporting receiving spam text messages saying that their mobile number has won a lottery or a prize from some known brand, and that they need to send their personal info to claim the reward.
In recent days we have been experiencing a surge of text spams sent to us by concerned people across Ireland. Example texts say (contact info hidden):
Congrats! Your Mobile # has Won $1,500,000USD in the FreeLotto Mobile Award. For Claims, send TSN#:3579220329, Your Name & Number to: ******@msn.***
Congratulations! You are Ireland’s WINNER OF THE DAY! Go to http://www.apple.ie.totalfreegiveaway.*** to claim your prize. Must claim within 24 hrs.
You are Ireland’s winner. Your phone number has been chosen to receive a prize. Go to http://www.sony.ie.contestcircle.***
The texts are coming from various foreign numbers, such as UK, USA, Malaysia and many use known brand names, such as Sony, BMW, Apple to attract potential scam victims. Unlike some old-school spams which were easily spotted because of their poor English spelling, many of these actually look quite convincing. In order to force a quick reaction from victims, some even put a time limit of 24 hours there.
Since people are increasingly using their mobile devices for online activities, the cybercriminals have spotted their chance for some quick scams and focused their spamming from traditional email spam to mobile text spam. But as with email spam, the goal is exactly the same. To get the victims to click on a link and infect their devices with some drive-by malware or to send the cybercriminals their personal contact info, so they can then unleash a variety of advance-fee scams upon them.
What to do?
If you receive such a suspicious text message:
- DO NOT follow or click the link in it.
- DO NOT send any info (not even a deserved curse) to the attached email address.
- DO NOT text back.
- Just ignore and delete the message.
All these texts are sent out randomly to thousands of numbers. The first step for scammers is to identify their victim. If you interact with them in any way, they would have confirmation that you exist and would be able to start targeting you directly. All these scams require the victim to do something first, such as click or reply. If you do not react you should be safe from harm in this case.