Fact Check: I Got the Alleged Sex Trafficking Text Message
As I was driving up to Long Prairie this week for an event, my phone pinged with a text message. I didn't even bother looking at it, anyone who needed me would call if it was urgent.
An hour later I put the car in park and looked at my phone. A weird number had sent me a text message saying:
Abbey, we came across a parcel from April owed to you. Please claim ownership and confirm delivery here: *sketchy looking link*
A couple of days prior I had seen a screenshot of a similar message circling social media saying that this message was being used as a way to sex traffic people. Being overly cautious I didn't click the link, blocked the number, and deleted the message from my phone.
In an even further abundance of caution, I did some Googling to see if this really was connected to sex trafficking. If it was I had every intention of reporting it to authorities.
Reuters, a news outlet that has been in business since 1851, reported on this scam on August 27th:
Tens of thousands of social media users are sharing photos of text messages from a phishing scam, claiming that they are linked to sex trafficking. This appears to be false. While the texts do appear to be scams, U.S. police departments told Reuters that there is no evidence to suggest they are linked to sex trafficking.
Even the Albert Lea, Minnesota Police Department reported that it was a scam saying:
Please be aware this is a typical malware SCAM designed to have you (the potential victim) click on the link and a virus would immediately download to your device. DO NOT trust these random links being sent to you.
People who were brave enough to click the link reported being taken to a page to take a survey to "claim a prize". It overall appears to be a financial phishing scam.
A general rule of thumb, if you don't know the number or where the link is going, don't click or open it. And NEVER give out your personal information. Stay safe everyone!