A New Word

Unemployment insurance form on a table.

Lexicographers for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary typically wait to add a word until they’ve determined that it has relatively widespread use, widely agreed-upon meaning, and seems to have staying power—meaning it’s likely to be used for a long time. Thanks to fraudsters, the relatively new word “smishing” is destined to be in the dictionary for a very long time.

Smishing is a colloquial term for texting people while purporting to be legitimate company, bank, or government agency. The way the scam plays out is a victim will read a message in a text and then click on a URL that ends up at on an official looking website. But that website is fraudulent with the intent to only get money, personal identifying data, or to wreak havoc on a device. The cybercriminal hopes to achieve one of these goals but always aims for all three!

Fraudulent text messages are bombarding our mobile phones more than ever. After all smishing is a fraudsters dream come true. Huge numbers of automated texts can be sent quickly, cheaply and to random configurations of phone numbers within the same area code, or from anywhere in the world. The point of execution is wherever the fraudster wants to drink his coffee.

Recently, the California Employment Development Department issued a warning to people about “smishing” scams.  A new round of deceiving text messages is popping up on cell phones, set by scammers claiming to be from EDD or Bank of America.  These scam texts attempt to get pin, debit card numbers, or account information related to unemployment benefits.  The scammer then uses it to file benefit claims on the victim’s behalf. These smishing scams aren’t limited to just EDD programs.  The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have seen scams of this nature in the past.  It’s safe to anticipate the target of these scams will expand to encompass all states and include all welfare programs.

Today’s Fraud of the Day is based on an article “EDD is Warning About Text ‘Smishing’ Scams. Here’s What That is” published by NBC Los Angeles on October 18, 2022

The California Employment Development Department is warning people about “smishing” scams, in which criminals pretending to be EDD or Bank of America are tricking people into giving up sensitive information by text or phone calls.

“Smishing” is a term coined to describe fraud attempts specifically related to text messages. The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission have seen scams of this nature in the past.


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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.