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Experts suspect Russia is behind latest phone scam targeting Verizon users

Verizon users are getting a text from their own phone number with a link to a "gift" that sends them to a Russian website.

YORK, Pa. — Another day, a new phone scam.

This time, Verizon users are getting a text from their own phone number saying that their bill is paid for March. Then, there's a link to a gift that people say sends them to a Russian TV site.

"In the case of this particular attack, it's a little bit unusual," said Dr. James Norrie, a professor of cybersecurity and strategy at York College. "It looks like it's coming from you. It's your own phone number coming back at you which for many people it would be really surprising, and for Verizon it's quite surprising."

Norrie calls this a sophisticated attack but, at first glance, it appears to be innocent.

"It may have a lingering link to what's going on, because it would strike me as a very sophisticated attack to spoof your own phone number and send you to a Russian website," he said.

Norrie suspects this recent Verizon phone scam is the latest Russian tactic.

"Given the current events going on between Russian and Ukraine, there is a deep suspicion in our space," he explained. "...It's really proving the Russians capability of using cyberwarfare."

People across central Pennsylvania are already seeing this scam. 

Stephanie Sell, a Susquehanna Township resident, says she received the text this morning but didn't open it. Locals Mike Maxwell and Sami-Jo Smith say the same thing happened to them.

Verizon released a statement regarding the texts, writing, in part, "Verizon is aware that bad actors are sending spam text messages to some customers which appear to come from the customers' own number. Our team is actively working to block these messages, and we have engaged with U.S. law enforcement to identify and stop the source of this fraudulent activity."

During these uncertain times, Norrie urges you to be cyber aware and to not open anything that comes from an unfamiliar number, even if it's your own.

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