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Group not coming forward for strange texts saying ‘you won’t be excommunicated’ for voting for Ben McAdams

Posted at 9:44 PM, Nov 05, 2018

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- A strange text message from a mystery sender has both Republicans and Democrats upset.

The text message that was allegedly sent out to cell phones said the following:

“The Independent Republicans of Utah want you to know: you won’t be excommunicated for voting for Dem Ben McAdams-he’s the best Republican in the race.”

The text was sent from several different numbers with the focus on one of the candidates in the closest race in Utah.

“I don't know if it was somebody who was trying to help me or trying to hurt me,” said Salt Lake County Mayor and Democratic candidate for Utah's 4th congressional district Ben McAdams.

The sender is likely referencing losing membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A church both candidates for the fourth congressional district belong to.

“It's inappropriate and uncalled for and it's certainly not the way things should be done,” Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) said.

Love says her daughter got the message while they were in church. McAdams also saw the text Sunday.

“I just thought it was obnoxious. It didn't come from my campaign or anyone affiliated with my campaign,” McAdams clarified, saying voters should make their voices heard by casting a ballot not by sending out mass text messages.

But who sent it? And how?

“There are services and ways you can spoof a fake source number on the internet for both phone calls and text messages,” said Pete Ashdown, President, and founder of XMission. He says spoofing is the likely culprit. Based on several numbers that sent the text and when you call the number it comes up with a dial tone.

Spoofing can be extremely cheap to do. For $100, some companies send out 100,000 messages. But finding out who is behind this mystery messages is not easy.

“You'd probably have to send warrants to companies who offer this service to see who had arranged that message you'd need law enforcement involved,” Ashdown said.

The message claims to be sent out by the Independent Republicans of Utah. We found that it is a political action committee, which registered with the state on Oct. 18.

The listed officer, Mark Austin, responded to Fox 13's calls and texts, but would neither confirm nor deny at this point if his group sent the message.

The state elections office says no state laws have been broken but a complaint could be filed to the federal elections commission to have them investigate.