I was bored on the weekend so started playing along with what I'm almost certain is going to try to turn into a romance scam, or similar.

Initial random WA text to wrong number ... "Oh, I'm so sorry" ... "But hey you look cute" ... "I'm in to set up a new business" ... etc. etc.

At one point they asserted that they wanted me to text them on a different mobile number "because it's my personal phone, not my work phone" 😂.

I was wondering why they'd want that, and whether there was any potential risk to continuing to play along with that bit?

My only guess is that maybe the professional scam shop wants to pass me on from a "bait/fishing" employee to a "closer/converter" employee? But I wouldn't have expected any of this to be coming from actual phones ... so surely they could manage that on their side?

Is there any direct risk from send a text or WA message to a random number that a scammer has given me. (Obviously won't be putting any even slightly sensitive info in said text ... this is just about the abstract concept of sending any comms to a phone number)

  • I've got two phone numbers (personal and work), and thus would try to get someone not work-related to switch to my personal number. (That does not negate the "handing you off to the salesman" answers; it's just a valid reason why legitimate people would want you to change contact numbers.)
    – RonJohn
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 16:12
  • 1
    Agreed ... except the initial message was "her setting up a date with someone else" :D It a shocking turn of events the scammers' fiction is not self-consistent.
    – Brondahl
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 16:26
  • If you text back, you'll be getting a lot more SPAM in the future. Commented Oct 31, 2023 at 15:01

4 Answers 4


This may just be the scammer's method of organizing their marks and building rapport. Anyone who actually continues the conversation on the second phone number is a "live one" who is actually interacting with the scammer. The scammer is likely working huge number of potential leads, and this is just a small innocuous step that builds commitment from the mark. If you're willing to go along with an odd request to contact someone you don't know at a second number, you might be willing to go along with other odd requests later on that are actually profitable for the scammer.


It's a sales technique. Many scams start with small requests and favors. This gets the mark in the habit of doing things for you. Over time the requests get bigger and bigger.


But I wouldn't have expected any of this to be coming from actual phones ... so surely they could manage that on their side?

Scammers often buy prepaid SIM cards and phones, commonly referred to as "burner phones" due to the difficulty of tracing. The entire prepaid phone may be purchased in cash then discarded periodically.

A scammer isn't going to sign up for some enterprise SMS with integrated CRM management solution because it would give away far too much data to track and arrest them, not to mention due diligence by the vendor and cost.

Shadier VOIP carriers may be an option for the scammer, however they still give away some data like IP addresses. In this case, the carrier may get complaints and shut down the scammers, losing their numbers. Tiering and rotating the numbers before they get lost is likely part of their strategy. For example, the spam everybody numbers, which are more amenable for bulk sending via VOIP, get shut down after a while for spam complaints, so once they know you're interested, they move you to a higher-value prepaid phone.

You can see what's going on by entering the first 6 digits of the number into a service like Telcodata.us. It will tell you whether the number belongs to a wireless carrier (suggesting prepaid) or a VOIP provider.


I have no idea whether there is a text equivalent to the charge-by-the-minute billed-to-your-account phone numbers used for sex chat lines and some scams. If so, that's a risk.

If not, this may just be a matter of handing you off from the automation/call center that got you in the hook to a salesman who will try to close the deal. Scams can be as industrialized as any business.

Ask yourself why anyone would have started this conversation from their work phone, if you need more evidence that this is likely to be a scam.

  • Oh, it's for sure a scam - there's no doubt about that. My uncertainty is about exactly what kind of scam they're running
    – Brondahl
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 15:48
  • This detail isn't diagnostically meaningful by itself. If you want to know that you'll have to string them along farther. And even then, multiple diseases can present the same gross symptoms.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 16:06

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