COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) – A photo of a woman floating around on social media is part of what victims said was an invasive phone scam leading to explicit images.
WSMV looked into this and found that the scam appears to be hitting women’s phones across the country.
When a text appeared with a photo of a woman’s face and an uncomfortable message, Sophie Mathai and her mother, Cathy, knew something was wrong.
“I was like, ‘I’m underage, but I hope you find who you’re looking for,'” Sophie said of her response to the first text.
The unknown number texted Sophie back saying, “She must have given me the wrong number. Did you enjoy the photo, though?
Sophie said the number sounded familiar and the person behind it seemed to know she was gay.
“It was a 615 number and also with that detail of ‘She must have given me the wrong number,'” Sophie pointed out.
“I got it a week later from a totally different number,” her mother, Cathy, said. “Same face shot, slightly different entry like ‘Oh sorry, I missed you.'”
When his mother received the same photo, they learned they weren’t the only targets.
“We have people in our neighborhood getting it, people in our Bible study getting it; it’s just this massive scheme,” Cathy believes.
It’s a ploy. Sophie said she’s seen women reporting on TikTok. When she received the text, she reported it to the Columbia police.
If you receive a text with the woman’s face, Robyn Householder, CEO of BBB Middle Tennessee, said to contact law enforcement and do not return the number.
“What you’ve really done for this scammer is confirm that it’s a legit phone number,” she said.
The householder said scams like this use bots and automation to get different phone numbers.
“Once they have access to your phone, they have access to your contact list,” she said. “A victim makes it a good day for them.”
Cathy and Sophie Mathai said this number finally sent some explicit images. When they stopped texting, the person on the other end did the same. Now they want others to know.
The BBB suggests taking a screenshot of the text and sending it to law enforcement.
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