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Gone phishing: Hundreds of Yukoners get spam on mobiles

Hundreds of Yukoners received annoying spam text messages over the weekend, but they shouldn't be too worried about their privacy or personal information being leaked, according to an expert.

Texts likely 'random dialing,' said Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association

"Criminals are very sophisticated in masking their identity and where they're coming from. Chances are these aren't even coming from inside Canada" says Marc Choma of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Hundreds and perhaps thousands of Yukoners got a ding or a buzz this weekend from criminals — just to see if they would bite. 

Texts advertising "grant work" and a financial proposal were sent to mobile phones.

In some cases, people received more than one.

The texts invited people to send an email. Any response led to an invitation to apply for a loan, asking users to send banking information. 

On Nov. 16, CBC Yukon asked people whether they had received the text. The CBC Yukon Facebook page received more than 300 replies.

Tom Stewart lives in Watson Lake. "I'm kind of concerned about that scam," he said. "Seems like privacy's not private anymore." 

Renee Mill, who lives in Whitehorse, said she got two during the weekend.

"It's actually the first time I received spam to my cellphone number," she said. "What I was concerned about is how my number had gotten out."

'Random dialling,' says expert

Marc Choma, with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, said that the kind of spam people receive by text message is similar to that received in oft-deleted — and unwanted — emails. 

"Unfortunately, every time the wireless carriers put in new technology, the criminals sending this type of message find a way around that," he said. 

Choma said the messages are likely being sent from automated software, which generates a false calling number and dials random numbers incessantly. 

"It's totally random. The phone numbers are not being targeted in any way. It's just random, random, random dialling," he said. 

Texts received in Yukon displayed the area code 604, which is native to British Columbia, but Choma said that "does not mean anything at all.

"That is just a number that is put in there to make people think it's a real phone number." 

Just delete it

Choma's advice is to delete the message and not reply. 

"Don't try to call back because there you're validating that your phone actually exists and the spam actually got to you."

He said, as is the case for email, wireless carriers are always trying to prevent spam from reaching customers but occasionally something manages to make it through. 

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