Making friends with a stranger who sent a text to the wrong number (scam)
4 minutes after I woke up today, I received this text message:
Elijah, it's Isabella. Are you going to Additi's wedding tomorrow?
This is not Elijah. Wrong number.
[Isabella] Sorry, I entered the wrong number, hope I'm not interrupting!
[Me] No worries!
[Isabella] I appreciate your gentle response, and how's the weather on your end today!If you're in Houston, I'll invite you to a marriage party and get to thank you in person, too!
This was odd: inviting a stranger to a friend’s wedding party, for “gently” responding to a wrong number. I texted my close friend with a screenshot and: “Is this a scam? A girl inviting me to a wedding”
Any genuine person would stop at wrong number. If you see them proceed past there rest assured it will definitely lead to you losing money or identity. Just report, block and ignore (Source)
I continued chatting with her. She was friendly, and wanted to be friends. She asked about my hobbies. We both liked reading books and investing in crypto.
The crypto space is rife with scams, so I try to be cautious. But this seemed like a genuine, although naive, person. She asked to move to Telegram. I obliged, since it’s my preferred messaging app.
Strangely, her Telegram profile used a different phone number, and had the country code for Thailand.
She asked if my profile image was really me.
I said yes, but now my beard is shaved. She asked to see what I look like now. I sent a selfie video saying hi.
She sent a photo of herself: an attractive Asian.
Then she correctly guessed my age, calling it “woman’s inspiration” (instead of intuition).
All throughout this, I was giving updates to my friend. He thought I found a potential girlfriend, and was cheering me on.
But it all just seemed off. I’ve seen many scam messages with attractive Asian profiles on Telegram coming from popular crypto channels. This was different though, since it started in text message, and had nothing to do with crypto. When I revealed I was in crypto, that would have been the perfect opportunity to shill me something. But she went on talking about daily life things, like weather, dinner, and weekend activities.
I googled “wrong number scam.” And sure enough, the pattern from this article was very similar to what I experienced:
No, that random text to the wrong number isn't a mistake. Here's what the scam looks like.
The text message came late Tuesday. Like others I'd been getting recently, it wasn't an obvious scam from the outset - no promise of a warranty or that I'd won a prize, no link to a suspicious website - but instead it seemed to be a frantic message intended for someone else.
And after watching this video, I deleted and blocked all messages from “Isabella.”
This is a common Chinese scam known as “pig butchering.” First, they “fatten” up the pig by building trust and a relationship with the target. This can take weeks or months. Then they present a crypto investment opportunity where you send your life savings in order to make more money. Once sent, they ghost you and keep your money: the “butchering.”
The switch from text message to Telegram was a switch in persons, as the initial contact forwarded me to someone else, likely a Chinese person who moved to Thailand to not be in the jurisdiction of China (since they would get in trouble if they carry out these scams from within China, but largely left alone if outside).
“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” holds true once again.