'They do this in mass numbers': Cyber security expert discusses strange text surfacing across country

Posted at 5:26 AM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 11:48:21-04

MILWAUKEE — A random text with the same woman's picture on it is popping up on cell phones all across the country.

If you get one, your first instinct may be to respond "wrong number." If you do that, you're taking the bait because cyber security experts say this is likely a scheme.
Harmony Rich says she received this strange text message.

"I was just sitting in bed and I got this text of this random girl and I thought, 'this is really weird,'" said Rich.

Rich says the message was from a 414 number -- her same area code. Her teenage daughter received the exact text at the same time. Again, just the image of a woman.

"So, then I just started diving down a black hole of investigating what was going on with this picture," said Rich.

Rich read on social media it's likely a scheme and that there's also another woman's image being texted out to the masses.

Rich and her daughter didn't respond to the message, which is the advice cyber security expert Yoav Keren is giving.

"In order for these people to succeed, they do this in mass numbers," said Keren, co-founder of online threat hunting company, Brandshield.

Keren says these unsolicited texts typically originate from computers. Oftentimes, they spoof the number, mimicking your local area code so you are more likely to text back.

"If people will go forward, it's clear that at some point the person on the other side will either ask you to wire money, or help them, or save them in some way. Or maybe offer you to participate in this great promotion of cryptocurrency or something like that and basically defraud you and steal your money," Keren said.

But it begs the question, who are these women? Keren says they may be real.

"It might be coming from this image bank, or it might be an image of a real person who doesn't even know it is being used," said Keren.

Bottom line, don't respond "wrong number."

"I felt the need to send out a post to everybody on my Facebook just to be wary of random text messages from girls sending out pictures," said Rich.

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