The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently revealed that Google Voice authentication scams are targeting Americans who disclose their phone number online. According to the federal law enforcement agency, the scammers are targeting persons who have placed their phone numbers as a means of contact while trying to sell various products on online marketplaces or social media applications.
The FBI said that they’ve recently received reports of people being targeted in different places, including sites where they post about lost pets.
If they are successful, they will create a Google Voice account in their victims’ names or hijack their Gmail accounts, which will be exploited further in fraud schemes or phishing attempts later. The fraudsters will contact their victims by text message or email, expressing interest in the item for sale and requesting that the seller confirm their offer is genuine and that they are not a bot by providing an authentication number they will get from Google.
“What he is really doing is setting up a Google Voice account in your name using your real phone number as verification,” the agency added. “Once set up, he can use that Google Voice account to conduct any number of scams against other victims that won’t come back directly to him. He can also use that code to gain access to, and take over, your Gmail account.”
The FBI urges that victims of Google Voice authentication fraud go to Google’s support page to learn how to regain control of their Google Voice account and restore their Voice number. If you’re ever targeted, the federal agency also gives the following advice on how to prevent being scammed:
Never share your Google verification code with anybody else.
Dealing with buyers, sellers, and Fluffy-finders in person is the only way to go. Make sure you’re using legitimate payment processors if money is going to be exchanged.
Don’t give away your email address if you’re doing business over the phone.
Allowing someone to push you into a deal is not a good idea. They are most likely attempting to trick you into behaving without thinking if they are forcing you to respond.
Those who suspect being online scam victims can contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or their local FBI office.