Here is a story about loan sharks hijacking a person’s phone. Let’s say his name is John, his story is one that many people across the country can relate to. The first text came through on his number one day at the crack of dawn. The message on John’s phone read:
Hi David. Following your app. for 500 pounds, go to XXX for loans from 1500 pounds, no guarantor. Opt out txt END.
As John stood there puzzling over why he was getting texts for somebody called David, another message came through:
Hi David, you have been approved for a loan, 1000 pounds, and we can lend you 5000 pounds. Go to XXX . To cancel text STOP.
John did not respond to these messages and it took minutes for more texts to come through on his phone. This time they changed their tactics:
David, your loan of 500 pounds is approved. We can offer you a minimum loan of 1000 pounds. Is this OK? Go to XXX. Opt out txt END.
The texts continued. They offered David immediate funds, funds that could be transferred directly into his bank account, funds of extortionate amounts, and one message after the other that kept subtly changing the message and offering ever more tantalizing opportunities to acquire ridiculous amounts of money with no credit check. By the end of the day, John had over 30 texts on his phone from loan sharks, offering a person called David huge amounts of money. Three weeks later that number had increased to 190 texts from nearly just as many different phone numbers.
Behind the scenes to the illegal loan shark industry
The government swears to crack down on this kind of illegal business activity and Culture Secretary Sajid Javid is determined to bring new regulation to the table. The Secretary is aiming to ban the phone calls and text messages that plague the nation.
Back at headquarters, namely John’s phone, activity had escalated. He was now receiving cold calls.
Suddenly John receives a call from a man, Mr. Brown, claiming to be representing a debt-management company. He told John that his company was happy to help him negotiate out of his debts for a fee. He claimed to be one of the good guys. John was suspicious but decided to listen when Mr. Brown began to explain how these loan sharks operate.
The reason why John’s phone was receiving messages for David is probably because a “David” had given the wrong number somewhere and it was John’s. The sharks, however, also relied on the person texting back with something like:
“My name isn’t David, but I might be interested…”
Another problem is that there are hundreds of businesses across the country that buy and sell databases of personal details of private people. This turns the pond into a feeding frenzy and the sharks try to bite into anything they can get. The messages are automated and can be sent out in hundreds and thousands, bombarding the same numbers over and over again. Finally another money maker, the text that John would send back to “opt out” or “STOP,” can cost up to 3.50 pounds. Thousands of people send in an opt out text that costs 3.50 pounds… you do the math.
Loan sharks, like their cousins the real sharks, should be avoided at all costs. Although I seriously doubt that even Jaws would bite as hard as these thugs.