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US utility bills, a catchy hook for international SMS scammers

Crooks outside the US launched targeted SMS-based campaigns, targeting Americans wary of skyrocketing utility bills.

Cybercriminals quickly adopt new technologies, leaning on international messaging sources to trick victims into revealing sensitive personal data.

Researchers at Enea AdaptiveMobile Security discovered a scam ring luring victims in the US with fictitious offers to save on electricity bills, gas prices, concert tickets, and car insurance.

The hook is that the operators of the scam campaign use SIM cards that originate from outside the US, a modus operandi not too common in the scamming business.

Scammers try to alternate their location to bypass security measures that local network providers have set up to combat precisely SMS-based scams.

“The operators we have observed as being a source of this kind of malicious traffic are selected by spammers due to the low cost of interconnection messages and because SIM cards are easy to get,” researchers said in a blog.

Crooks are well aware that people are sensitive to rising energy prices and target victims with too-good-to-miss offers. The fake offer arrives via SMS and always includes a link that redirects to website scammers set up.

Once there, people are likely to provide sensitive details such as their Social Security Number or payment card PIN. Once scammers get their hands on user data, they will try to sell it on the dark web or try seizing any funds they can.

Researchers note that scammers are often pictured as lone-wolf types, but that’s hardly the case. Cybercriminals pick their victims carefully, adhere to work schedules, and employ strict procedures to maximize profit.

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