Beware: Fraudsters Use SMS Spoofing to Target Mobile Users with Fake Prizes



Above screen shows an SMS — received by at least two of our of ProPakistani readers — which claims that receiver of the SMS has won a bumper prize of Rs. 1,000,000 or Rs. 1 million and they need to contact some guy named Faisal Qareem to claim prize money and so on.

Message is received from TELENOR PK intriguing the receiver that this is some kind of official communication from Telenor and that this announcement of prize is officially from the company.

However, it is not.

While we have repeatedly written about such lottery frauds, SMS frauds and similar activities in the past, the idea of SMS spoofing has now become a new tool for the fraudsters to victimize innocent souls.

Our readers would know that SMS Spoofing is a way of sending message with any desired Senders’ number or even a Name, such as Telenor PK or Ufone or anything. Read one of our previous articles to know more about SMS Spoofing, how it works and how to detect a Spoofed message.

But just imagine a situation where this message is received by relatively unaware and resource-less individual in a far flung area of the country, it is very likely that he is going to call back on the number given in the text message.

Soon after calling the number, it is highly likely that he will get trapped as fraudsters will not only convince him on the fact that this message is officially from the company but will also convince the person that he has indeed won a Million rupees and that his life is about to get changed.

But before that victim will have to deposit some amount into an account or send it through Easypaisa/Mobicash as a processing fee for the prize money to be sent to the supposed winner.

After depositing this money (that can range from Rs. 2,500 to anything around Rs. 25,000 or even more) the fraudsters will never respond your call/messages or they will never revert back and you will end up with nothing but with a loss of money.

How to Detect a Fake Prize Call/SMS

  • First thing, you can’t win anything unless you have participated in it, be it a lucky draw, contest or anything, but you should have participated in something to win it. So simply discard any unannounced lottery prizes where you never participated
  • No company in this world will ask you for processing fee if the prize is real or legitimate. Simply discard or ignore such calls/SMS that end up asking for a processing fee.
  • Contact the official numbers of the respective company to counter check any of such prizes, that is 345 for Telenor, 333 for Ufone and so on.

We know this is how it works, but unfortunately there are millions of people who still don’t know this and they easily get trapped through such fake prizes.

What PTA Should Do Against Such Fake Prizes?

Now is the high-time for our government to introduce fraud control systems, that are capable of sensing the fraud messages. This is very much possible and in fact PTA once asked operators to deploy such systems to check obnoxious and marketing messages.

PTA should work in-line with the operators to make sure that such fraud SMS aren’t delivered to mobile phone subscribers.

PTA should also start an awareness campaign to communicate the masses about such frauds. But just print ads won’t do much. PTA will have to come up with workshops, seminars, social media campaigns, story telling on radio, awareness dramas serials and so on to reach the people that are least connected with the national communication grid.

Your Role in Curbing Fraudsters

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK