SCAM ALERT: Google Voice Code Verification Scam

So you’ve posted an item on sale via Craigslist, Ebay or some other electronic shopping forum.   You get a text from someone who’ll say:

I will send you a quick verified code from Google Voice because I have seen many fake posts.”

Don’t respond! This is a Google Voice code verification scam used by scammers to create new Google Voice accounts, and thus new phone numbers, by using an unsuspecting stranger’s phone.   In this case, it came from a Sacramento-based phone number:  916-713-1879.

Because Google Voice phone numbers are free, phone scammers who need new numbers to use online seller to try to get new numbers using this scam. Fortunately, Google has made things a bit more difficult for these scammers.  It prevents scammers from creating as many Google Voice accounts as they want. To get around this limitation, scammers attempt to trick victims into unknowingly linking their phone numbers to new Google Voice accounts that the scammers are trying to create.  In addition to focusing upon people attempting to sell items, they’ll also target users of Grindr and Tinder.

How The Scammer Uses You To Get A New Phone Number To Use In Their Scams

Once they get to the step where they are running out of phone numbers to use on their scams, they begin looking to link to a new Google Voice phone number.  Scammers will call or text a victim and convince them they need to send them a code to confirm that they’re a real person.

What’s actually happening is the scammer is entering their phone number into the Google Voice account setup which sends a verification code to the victim. The victim then sends this code to the scammer who uses it to finish the account setup and link it to the victim’s phone. The scammer  then uses the new Google Voice account to call or text other potential victims in future scams via the Google Voice apps.

How to Evade This Scam

It’s easy.  To avoid falling for the Google Voice verification code scam, just ignore the text message asking you to provide a code or delte the verification text when you get it and report the scammer’s account to the platform they found you on. For example, if they contacted you on Craigslist, report their phone number to Craigslist using the following steps:

Step 1: Navigate to the Craigslist website and click “help, FAQ, abuse, legal” from the left panel.

Step 2: Click “contact us” under the general help section.

Step 3: Select the type of issue you are reporting to the Craigslist administrators. If you’ve come across a fraudulent posting, select “flagging, terms of use (TOU) violations, scams” or “personal harassment.”

Step 4: A dropdown list will appear. Click on the issue you are experiencing.

Step 5: If you need additional help, click “contact us” to further describe the situation. Fill out the “name,” “email address,” and type a subject, such as “Reporting a scam” or “Reporting fraud.” In the description box, provide as much detail about the case as you can, including any identification numbers, user names, phone numbers or other information in the fraudulent posting. Add the “post ID.”

Step 6: Press “Send Message” when you’ve finished describing the case.

What To Do If You Fell For the Scam

The scammer doesn’t have any of your personal information, so relax.  All you need to do is to disconnect your number from their newly created Google Voice account ASAP.  Log into your Google Voice account on the Google Voice website or app, navigate to Settings, and select the + symbol. Enter your phone number into the field and then type in the new verification code that will have been sent to your phone. Your phone number will now be linked to your Google Voice account and disconnected from the scammer’s.

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