By DaVonte McKenith, Reporter/Weekend Producer - bio | email
"When I first got it, I was more worried than anything. The fact that someone I don't know was texting me, and said they saw my Facebook profile, loved it, and wanted to chat...worried me," said Kortni Shemat, scam victim.
It was a text message that Kearney resident Kortni Shemat received saying, "How's it going Kortni? I love your Facebook profile! Please add 'myah00' so we can chat a bit."
"It worried me due to the fact that they can send me a text whenever they want... not knowing what this text can do," said Shemat.
It is a scam that's becoming more popular, but is easier to maintain than the traditional e-mail scam.
"E-mail used to be the biggest way, but now texting is another popular way. It's a lot easer not to open/respond to a text than to not opening an email," said Sandy Breault, media coordinator for the FBI Omaha division.
Scammers are racking up phone numbers that many would think would come from a list. FBI officials say it is typically just from random dialing.
"I think that it's so easy to just start trying all these numbers instead of being provided a list. A lot of the times, it's random numbers they are trying going in a row," said Breault.
Over 50 people responded to a Facebook post from Shemat when she stated she was a victim of the scam. I called a few of those numbers that viewers had mentioned, and it came back to a company called Pinger.
NTV reached out to the CEO of the company who refused an interview. He instead released this statement saying: "It's clearly a violation of our policy, we have used all of our blocking and prevention tools to try and deal with the offender. Because we are a communication network, we have risk of abuse just like the mobile networks or email services we all use every day."
FBI officials say the best way to prevent this scam from going further is acting as if you never received it.
"Just not responding to them – that's the biggest thing. Once you've opened it, you've already taken a step toward the wrong direction. So, just ignore the text – if they see you're not responding, they will discontinue," said Breault.
Even with the advice, Shemat says she is still clueless about the intentions of these scammers.
"I really don't know. I think they do it for their own benefit, or to see if they can get anyone that will lead into giving them more information to do fraud. I'm not sure," said Shemat.