A VICIOUS scam has exploited Google's verification technology to hijack identities.
A twist in the scam turns the user into an active participant in their own demise.
This scheme will make you think twice about attaching your cell phone number to a sales listing online.
Scammers will contact the victim and feign interest in buying their merchandise via call or text.
“They’ll say they want to make sure you’re not a scammer, so they want to send you a verification code,” Daniel Irwin of the Better Business Bureau told Fox 13 Memphis.
The dishonest part: the verification code activates a Google Voice account in your name and number but its controlled by the scammer.
The scammer then uses that Google Voice account to mask their own identity in future online grifts.
“They’re able to take your number without you ever really knowing about it and then perpetrating fraud in your name,” Irwin said.
Google Voice is a tool in the Google Workspace – it can used as an online phone line for personal or business use.
Google acknowledged the presence of scams exploiting the verification code technology.
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"Never, ever share verification codes with anyone. No legitimate business will ask for that information," Google wrote in a support blog.
This is an undeniably clever scam – one that could be hard to detect, especially if you're eager to sell something you've listed online.
The scammer disarms the victim by forcing them to prove their own legitimacy – it could almost feel like they're taking precautions for the both of you.
“They come out acting like they want to make sure you aren’t a scammer. But, they are the ones trying to scam you," Irwin said.
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According to Fox 13, this scam is most prevalent in the Midwest.
There are dozens of claims on the Better Business Bureau website flagging verification code scams that lead to identity theft.
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