GREENSBORO, NC - Know the story of the genie lamp? You know, you rub it, little genie pops out and you get three wishes? We all know it's not real but sometimes we're willing to believe the smoke will clear and a stack of money will be waiting for us.
My producer received a message on her cell phone recently. It reads, 'Hey Barbara, you're now wholly suitable for an adv (sic) of USD 835 that initially you were not. To avail, (sic) go to (sic)' and then there's link to click on attached to the message.
So many problems with this text. First, my producer's name is Monique, not Barbara. The wording of the message is also weird; abbreviations, no dollar sign for the amount and odd grammar usage. Then there's the link which says 'kohli.tech' at the bottom. A quick search on Google showed there's no sweepstakes, giveaway or company associated with the link.
We also called the number associated with the message my producer received. It has a Charlotte area code, and rang several times before we got a dial tone. So, it seems pretty clear this is a bogus message.
Lechelle Yates with Greensboro's Better Business Bureau confirmed it.
"Nobody is just going to message you and tell you you've won an award or you've got a grant or you've got free money. I wish it did work that way but it just doesn't."
Malware attacks targeting individual smartphones nearly doubled to 8.19 billion in 2016, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).
Bottom line, if you received this message or one similar, don't click the link.
"You don't know who it's from, so it could be malware or spyware that could load on your phone. You just never know with something like this," said Yates.
She added a real company will answer the phone and answer your questions before they ask you to click on a link or fill out any form.
If you were to click on the link, Yates recommended making sure all your apps and operating system are up to date. It lessens the chance hackers could exploit your phone and grab all your information.
ITRC also released a list of measures to protect yourself from hackers via smartphones by wearing W.H.I.T.E. all year long:
Wonder where your data is being stored.
Hang up on scammers.
Ignore those phishing emails and texts.
Tighten up your password security.
Empty your inbox in case your email is hacked.