The wireless carrier Verizon blamed “bad actors” for thousands of spam text messages recently received by its customers and said it was working with federal law enforcement agencies to try to identify the source.
The telecom giant confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that its customers had been targeted by the ‘rogue texts’ offering them a gift.
Some users had reported being forwarded to Russian state media sites when they clicked on links in the texts, but Verizon was treating the texts as a more typical phishing scheme aimed at defrauding consumers.
“As part of a recent fraud scheme, bad actors have been sending text messages to some Verizon customers which appear to come from the customers’ own number,” the statement said. “Our company has significantly curtailed this current activity, but virtually all wireless providers have faced similar fraudulent activity in recent months.”
The scheme highlighted a steady rise in the number of complaints filed with the federal government by consumers who said that they were the victims of spam text messages. Verizon spokesman Rich Young told The New York Times that Verizon had blocked one of the numbers that sent some of the messages, but that the source was continuing to use other numbers to spam customers.
There was no indication, Mr. Young said, that the messages came from Russia, which has become suspected of carrying out cyberattacks amid that country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Security experts generally advise against clicking on links sent from strange or unrecognized accounts. The intent of the fraudulent solicitations is to get people to enter their credit card information, Young said. The F.B.I. declined to comment on Wednesday, as did the Secret Service, while T-Mobile said that it had found no evidence of its customers receiving the text messages.
In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission said that it received 377,840 reports of fraud stemming from text message solicitations, with losses totaling $131 million.