Tis the season to try and get people to fall for scams. There’s an SMS and iMessage spam going around right now that reads:
Hey, sara wanted me to send this to youhttp://bit.ly/12qUDv4
There is at least one variation that uses the name ’emily’ instead. The phone number originates from the 503 area code in Oregon, as shown in the screenshot here. If you add a + to the end of the Bit.ly URL, you can easily see the destination, which is a site that asks you for personal information located at:
My guess is there have been several variations of the same URL inserted in a Bit.ly short URL with the ?[Area Code] targeting specific promotions to relevant area codes. This is the kind of stuff the FTC and state attorneys general end up going after.
If you follow the link (which you shouldn’t), the site wants you to believe that someone sent you a Target gift card. Another variation offers Costco gift cards instead. The root domain starts with an offer for a Walmart gift card. Don’t fall for it. If you see it come through on your phone, just delete the message and move on.
Unfortunately, it looks like people are falling for it. As of this writing 8,376 people clicked on the link. And that’s only the variation for the 206 area code.
The bottom line is, even if you know someone named Sara or Emily, if you don’t recognize the phone number or if a message you receive looks vague, find out who is behind it before you click the link.