I just received the following text message from 781-366-7992:
I know you don’t know who I am yet but I promise you I will win tonight’s MINNESOTA / OKLAHOMA CITY game for sure. Reply FREE and I will text it absolutely FREE
I don’t even have to look this one up to know how it works… I saw it 30 years ago.
The trick was to start with a sufficiently large number of people and send them each a letter (yes, a paper letter with a postage stamp) identifying which team was going to win the next baseball/football/basketball game. Let’s say you sent 100 letters. Half of the letters (500) would identify Team A while the other half (the other 500) got told that Team B would win. Which ever team one, you were 100% right in 50 letters. You follow up by sending another letter to the 500 you got right claiming to have a secret for picking winners. And to prove it you’re gonna pick the winner of the next game. Five hundred letters go out, 250 pick Team C and 250 pick Team D. Holy cow… you were right again. But surely this is just luck, you say? Watch, I’ll do it again. Out go another 250 letters, 125 picking Team E and 125 picking Team F. Voila! I’m a genius! You see where this is going. 75 letters, 37 letters, 18 letters, etc. After establishing a perfect record of six or eight wins in a row, you’ve got their attention. “Ok, that’s all you get. If you want to know the 9th pick, you gotta pay me $1000 in cash. Send the money and I’ll send you pick.”
The wait time of postal mail, the difficulty of anonymity and the cost of postage made this scam harder to run way back then. But with the immediacy of text messaging, free access to cell phone numbers, relatively easy anonymity and the MASSIVE reach that possible… this sucker is a no brainer today.
All my readers are super smart so I don’t expect them to fall prey. But I gotta think a ton of less sophisticated mobile users are gonna have an unfortunate wake up call.
Hope the Secret Service paying attention to this?