Beware Google Authentication Scam Targeting Online Sellers

The FBI described a devious Google authentication scam targeting online sellers. The FBI Oregon’s Tech Tuesday segment explained how the scheme works, which we’ve summarized below. (Hat tip to

  • You post your real phone number on an online platform when listing an item for sale.
  • The scammer contacts you via text or email and says in order to make sure you are legit so he doesn’t get scammed, he will send you an authentication code from Google “to confirm that you are a real person and not a bot.”
  • You receive the authentication code in the form of a voice call or a text message and provide the number to him.
  • The scammer then uses that authentication code to set up a Google Voice account in your name using your real phone number as verification.

The FBI explains, “Once set up, he can use that Google Voice account to conduct any number of scams against other victims that won’t come back directly to him.” (Google Voice is a free service that lets you set up a phone number that can be used to make phone calls and send texts.)

The FBI said scammers can also use the authentication code people provide them to gain access to, and take over, victims’ Gmail accounts.

It seems likely scammers could use variations of this scheme, so think twice before you read out any numbers that come to you from what looks like an authorized source unless *you* initiated it personally.

The FBI provided additional tips for avoiding scam:

  • Never…

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