SWFL women receiving strange texts that could be connected to sex trafficking

Women in Southwest Florida are getting texts from strange numbers, and a sheriff out of state says it’s connected to a sex trafficking scheme. Law enforcement says it’s aware of it, and the best way to avoid it is to not respond.

Women we spoke to say they got a text saying something like, ‘Hey, are you Finn? I’m Georgia. We met on Clover.’”

Then, when a woman responds saying, “Hi, you have the wrong number,” the person will try to play it off and learn more about you and even send a fake selfie.

Those we spoke to say, while the text is harmless, it’s not knowing what it could mean that worries them.

“Of course, it sounded suspicious, and I instantly texted that exact phrase into Google,” Andrea Zamora explained. “That is when I saw the article circulating about people receiving this similar text message and it being like a sex trafficking scam.”

Zamora and many other women in Southwest Florida say they’ve gotten similar messages. The person sends a text saying something like, “Hi, is this Jason? Is this Allie? We met on Tinder.”

“I text back and said, ‘I think you have the wrong number,’” Madison Campbell-Nelson said. “Then, they replied.”

The individual might send a selfie and will try to learn more about the person they are reaching out to.

“It was really crazy,” Campbell-Nelson said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is going on.’”

A sheriff in Alabama posted to Facebook saying these random tests could be a way for sex traffickers to lure in women.

Cape Coral Police Department told us everyone needs to beware.

“Spam texts from someone you don’t know, they’re unsolicited, and they should be, you should be very wary of these things,” Master Cpl. Philip Mullen said.

If you get one of these texts, don’t respond. If you do, that lets the person know your number is legitimate. Instead, block the number. Then, forward the suspicious text to 7726 or spam.

Your cell phone provider should then text you back to ask for the phone number of the spam text and launch an investigation.

“OK, somebody’s got my phone number,” Zamora said. “Is this just some innocent, you know, somebody trying to scam some romance scam? Get some money out of me? Or is this really somebody trying to verify that this is a working number, then, dig deeper and try to get information from you or your device? So it’s unnerving.”

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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