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Issue 158 - July, 2013 (2nd Edition) - Page 14

'Google Account Hacked' Text Message Scam

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Outline
Text message claims that the recipient's Google account has been hacked and he or she needs to reply with a specified code word to receive a call to verify and reactivate the account.

Google Account hacked

© Depositphotos.com/ Viorel Sima



Brief Analysis
The message is not from Google and the claim that the user's account has been hacked is untrue. The message might be a ruse to collate a list of likely targets for future spam and scam campaigns. Or it might be an attempt to trick users into supplying sensitive personal information or subscribing to premium rate SMS services. The exact motivation of the perpetrators remains elusive, but is certainly nefarious. If you receive one of these text messages, do not reply.

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Example

Google user #56767: your account has been hacked. Text back "SEND CODE" When you are ready to receive your reactivate number.


Example

Gmail ID# 57277: 
Your account has been hacked. We need to call
You to verify your account. Text back with
"READY" when you are ready to receive this call


Example

Google Message #97584: Your Gmail has been compromised by hackers. We need to call  to verify your identity. Reply to this message with 'READY' when you are ready to recieve the call.

Google Account Hacked Screenshot


Detailed Analysis


Since at least March 2013, numerous mobile phone users around the world have reported receiving strange text messages claiming that their Google account has been hacked. The messages claim that Google must call recipients to verify their identity and reactivate the compromised account.  Recipients of the text are instructed to reply with a code word when they are ready to receive the verification call.

However, the text message is certainly not from Google and the claim that the recipient's Google account has been hacked is a lie.

The obvious intention of the messages is to trick users into responding. But, the exact motivation of those responsible for the spam messages remains unclear.

ThreatTrack Security Labs investigated the spam messages in June 2013 and found that those who reply receive a message containing a "verification code". They later receive a call with a pre-recorded message asking them to enter the verification code. After entering the code, users are told that their voicemail is ready to be set up. The ThreatTrack article notes:

What exactly is taking place here? Is it a long winded way to sign people up to premium rate SMS services? A phish gone horribly wrong? The worst promotion for a new voicemail service ever? Nobody seems to be entirely sure.

The ruse might also be an elaborate attempt to identify users who are likely to fall for future spam or scam campaigns. Those who reply are showing that they are susceptible to such tricks and are willing to follow instructions. They are therefore prime targets for future attacks. A list containing the phone numbers of such "primed" potential victims would be considered very valuable to scammers and spammers. Thus, the goal of those responsible for these spam messages might be to collate a list of potential victims that they can later sell to other criminals.

But, whatever the motivation, it is clear that those responsible have dishonest intentions. If you receive one of these messages just delete it. Do not reply.

And, if receiving one of the messages has raised your concern about the integrity of your Google account, you might want to enable Google's 2-step verification system.

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Last updated: July 9, 2013
First published: July 9, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
Text messages from google saying I've been hacked
'Your Google Account has been Hacked' Phone Spam
About 2-step verification



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Issue 158 Start Menu

Pages in this issue:
  1. Capri Sun Mold Warning
  2. False Child Abduction Alert - 'Lilly Snatched From Surrey'
  3. Gas Saving Tips - Are They Really Saving You Anything?
  4. China Food Imports - Is It Really That Simple?
  5. Jury Duty Phone Scam Warning
  6. Myth - Ice Water Can Cause Dangerous Bloating in DogsD
  7. Amazon 'Important Message From Security Center' Phishing Scam
  8. Hoax: Facebook to Start Charging This Summer
  9. Kmart Australia Giveaway Like-Farming Scam
  10. Do Water Filled Zip-Lock Bags with Added Pennies Keep Flies Away?
  11. Photos of Old Car Collection Found in Portugal Barn
  12. Faux Image - Mounted Police Officer Riding Giant Dog
  13. Expedia Travel Itinerary Malware Email
  14. 'Google Account Hacked' Text Message Scam
  15. Completely Pointless and Misleading 'Facebook Privacy Notice'
  16. Hoax - Pope Benedict XVI Resigned Papacy to Convert to Islam
  17. Wonga.com 'Account Error' Phishing Scam
  18. Hoax Warning Claims Deadly Swine Flu Epidemic in South Africa
  19. Australian Government Withdrawing Funds From Inactive Accounts Warning
  20. 'Facebook Has Sent You a Message' Pharmacy Spam
  21. Pepsi Cola Bottling Company 'Grant Compensation' Advance Fee Scam
  22. Does a Viral Image Depict a Monkey Saving a Puppy From An Explosion?
  23. Advance Fee Scammers Using Cloned FB Accounts To Gain Victims
  24. South African 'Mighty Men' Conferences Racial Integration Hoax
  25. Did Samsung Pay a $1 Billion Fine to Apple in 5 Cent Coins?
  26. Browser and Operating System Survey Scam
  27. Circulating Message Falsely Accuses Pictured Man of Being a Human Trafficker