Skip to main content

I’ve been getting tons of ‘wrong number’ spam texts, and I don’t hate it?

Photo by Andrew J. Hawkins / The Verge

The text that arrived at 3:51PM on Monday, March 28th, seemed innocent at first.

“Mr. Steven,” it read, “I am very sorry, after our communication and understanding during this period of time, I feel that we are not suitable in some ways.”

That’s odd, I thought, must be a wrong number. But who was this mysterious Mr. Steven? What was the nature of the disagreement? What the heck did Mr. Steven do to offend this person? I was intrigued — but not enough to respond.

Several weeks later, I received another text, this time from someone named “Amy” asking about “a location for coffee.” A couple days after that, “Irene from Vietnam” reached out to ask if I was still living in New York. And then “Sophia” texted, calling me “Laura” and asking about a party we both attended over the weekend.

These “wrong number” texts are clearly the work of some fraudster, but honestly I don’t really mind. To me, they’re more sublime than annoying, hinting at a possible missed connection or mistaken identity. The fact that they’re not openly soliciting me for money or just outright phishing me helps take some of the sting out of it. They’re certainly more tolerable than the torrent of emails I’ve received from feckless Democratic politicians begging for more money in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

Max Read wrote about this phenomenon of “wrong number” text spam in his most recent Substack, calling it “a rich world, animated by detail and alive with mystery,” and I tend to agree. Spam is more pervasive than ever — a recent study found that Americans receive an average of 3.7 scam calls and 1.5 scam texts per day — and practically all of it is banal and forgettable.

This new genre of spam isn’t. And that’s probably what makes it more pernicious, but I can’t seem to get too worked up about it.

Read does a deep dive — I encourage you to read his essay — into what are likely “romance scams,” also known in China as “pig butchering” scams. They play on the recipients’ loneliness, sympathy, or general cluelessness to lure them into some sort of fraud that typically results in them being scammed out of a bunch of money. We all love a good scam story, but honestly, these types of scams are not good because they mostly prey on low-income people.

The way they do that is pretty simple. The sender is implied to be wealthy — or at least outgoing, sociable, and fun — which helps draw the mark into a whole world of fake characters and fraudulent events. There are charity galas, steak dinners, and high-end business travel.

But Read notes that just the opposite is likely true, as the scammers are most likely to be “an abused and captive worker operating multiple phones and attempting to con several people from a compound operated by shady gambling rings somewhere in Southeast Asia.”

That’s certainly a bummer, but if I had to choose, I’d take these oddly literary text messages over any appeal to renew my car’s extended warranty. (And they are definitely preferable to those spam texts from your own phone number, like The Verge’s Chris Welch reported on.)

If you’re not like me and you’d prefer your phone to be spam-free, the Better Business Bureau recommends you take three actions to prevent them: ignore the messages; block the numbers; and never give your personal information to strangers. The Verge also published a detailed guide on how to avoid these types of messages altogether. All of it seems pretty obvious, but then again, this is America, where a TikTok video about “normalized scams” went so viral that people are begging it to stop.

These wrong message texts do seem to gesture at a growing desperation among the scammers of the world. They’re running out of gullible boomers to defraud, so their tactics are getting more sophisticated — or at least less annoying. I, for one, can’t really seem to muster up too much outrage about it. It seems like a small price to pay in order to carry all the world’s knowledge in your pocket.

Source: The Verge

Popular posts from this blog

Follow these steps to connect a Pro Controller to your Android phone

Playing games on your smartphone is one of the best ways to entertain yourself. However, it can be tough to play with some games when you're just tapping on a screen. Fortunately, it's possible to sync up a traditional controller. That's where it's nice to connect your Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and get playing on the best gaming phones . By the way, the Playstation 4 controller as well as the Xbox One controller are also compatible with Android devices, if you'd prefer to use one of those. Note: You will only be able to use a Pro Controller if your phone is running Android 10 and if the game you're playing supports controllers. Additionally, the process for syncing the controller with your phone will be different from one phone to the next. How to use Switch controller on Android: Sync Pro Controller to your phone via Bluetooth Do keep in mind that some Android games — including some of the most popular titles like Genshin Impact — don't act

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

I replaced my Steam Deck’s noisy fan and am so happy I did

Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge 160 hours into Elden Ring, I’m sure of one thing: the single most annoying thing about my Steam Deck is its whiny fan. And now, I’m so happy to report there’s a way to fix it. It takes roughly 15 minutes and $30 — depending on where you live — to install a replacement fan from iFixit. Five days ago, the repair company finally got a large shipment of those fans , and I bought one right away. Now, my Steam Deck’s tiny screech is gone. Is the fan still loud? Yes, yes it is, but it’s a whoosh instead of a whine. I like to think of it as the sound of air escaping the Deck’s vents, but mostly, I don’t think about it at all. I can easily tune out the new whoosh, whereas the whine always managed to get my attention even after Valve tweaked its software to bring the fan noise down. In fact, the new fan has less whine than the electrical tape trick I showed you in April , and — YMMV — seems to be oh-so-slightly quieter overall. I did an admittedly

You can make your new Pixel look like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

A cool thing about Google’s Pixel 6 series phones is their unique camera bar design . If the finish of that strip were a different color than black — specifically blue, orange, purple, or red — it would totally look kind of like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles . And now that you can’t unsee the resemblance, device outfitter Dbrand would like to help make your Pixel 6 device look like one of your favorite childhood heroes. With Google’s latest phone the Pixel 6a releasing next week , Dbrand decided it's a good time to revisit the sewers and launch its Teenage Mutant Ninja Pixels decals for all three phones. They match the green heroes-in-a-half-shell plus their masks, and include four camera decal strips that reflect the colors of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. Personally, I think the Pixel 6a’s two-camera array does the best job looking like proper eyes (the spidery camera array of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, not so much). Available now for the Pixel 6a: https://