OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) — Charlie and Jim were best friends, and Patricia Longacre lost them both.
“I felt like I should be here looking or him, but I needed to be in California for my dad’s funeral,” Longacre said.
Charlie got away from friends and has been missing more than two weeks. Patricia posted signs around West Omaha and a plea for help on Craigslist, which led to a text saying, “I found all white dog.”
“It gave me hope because every call is hopeful,” she said.
But the text included Google verification numbers and stated that if the message recipient was the real owner of the dog to send back the code, then “I’ll call you.”
“They weren’t trying to verify that I own the dog,” Longacre said. “They’re trying to see if I’m dumb, if I’m vulnerable, and if I’m going to give them information that makes them be able to take advantage of me.”
Though desperate to find her dog, Longacre didn’t text them back.
6 News brought these text messages here to the Intelligence Systems Lab at Bellevue University to ask what happens if someone gives scammers the codes they’re asking for — what do they do with them?
Cyber security expert Ron Woerner says the Google verification code scam about dialing to your Gmail and phone information is propogating the scam.
“They’re basically just using this to get a valid phone number to commit more scams to be able to send out spam, voice mail and voice calls, pretending they’re actually from that local area code and prefix,” Woerner said.
Longacre’s post on Craigslist led to scammers who hoped she had been blinded by her emotions.
“They’re trying to take advantage of the fact I’m vulnerable and willing to look anywhere for my dog,” she said.
Heartbroken over her lost pet, Longacre said the text scam is verification that cyber crooks are heartless.
“This is just evil behavior, I think,” she said.