First there was phishing, now we have 'smishing': Spammers are now texting us

If you received a text in the past day or so that dangles the dubious possibility of a big inheritance coming your way, don't worry. You're not alone.

RCMP warn of yet another texting scam in the 902 area code

780 is an area code in Alberta. Similar messages have been sent from the 514 area recently. Fraud investigators say the perpetrators may be located overseas, despite the Canadian area codes. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

If you received a text in the past day or so that dangles the dubious possibility of a big inheritance coming your way, don't worry. You're not alone.

Island RCMP say it's just the latest installment of an annoying trend that's known as 'smishing.'

"They're fishing for replies," said Cpl. Troy MacLean of Kings district RCMP. "With email, it's called phishing. With text messages, it's smishing."

The suspect text appeared in recent days.

With generous use of all-caps, the text appears to have been written by someone named Gordon Freeman.

And Gordon, for whatever reasons, says he wants to share money with you.

"It's urgent please contact me for an UNCLAIMED BENEFIT PAYMENT," reads part of the text.

"Ignore it," said MacLean.  "Do not respond."

Cpl. Troy MacLean tweeted warning to Islanders about the latest spam. "Don't respond. Ignore it." (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Unfortunately, too many people do.

About 200 people have been scammed more than $2 million so far this year, according to the federal government's Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

Scams include job offers, such as working as a 'secret shopper.'

In other cases, victims are promised money in exchange for placing advertisements on their vehicles.

Victims are sent a phony cheque from the scammer, and are asked to cash it at their bank, keep some money for themselves, and wire the remainder back to the scammer.

Victims end up owing money to their banks when the phony cheque bounces.

You are not being individually targeted

If it's any comfort, you are not likely being targeted individually.

"Text spams are sent to thousands of numbers, randomly generated by a computer," said Marc Choma, vice-president of communications and strategy at the Canadian Wireless and Telecommunications Association in Ottawa. "The recent texts on P.E.I. were likely randomly generated all with the 902 area code."

Phone companies actively filter out spam from text services, just as they do for email services, according to Choma. 

Some service providers, including Telus and Bell Aliant, allow customers to forward suspected spam text to 7726 for further investigation.

Two people charged in Ontario

RCMP in Ontario charged two people in connection with an alleged texting scam last month.

According to RCMP, the man and woman had computer equipment capable of sending 96,000 texts daily.

RCMP also allege they found materials used to forge cheques.

Island RCMP say they have had no reports of victims from the recent bout of spam in the 902 area code.