While we know that fraudsters are using SMS and voice channels to trap innocent souls by luring them with fake prizes, such as million rupee prizes, lottery winners, car winners, inclusion in Benazir Income support program and so on, a new gang has surfaced that is bold enough to get an ad printed in the paper to trap people.
So this new crime-mechanism is based on print ads, asking the masses for land for tower installations of telecom companies.
Before we further discuss this, let’s have a look at this print ad published in a mainstream national newspaper:
Clearly it is a fake ad, however, less-educated people can easily get trapped by such amazing offers. Especially when they see them in a main-stream and tier-1 newspapers. Unfortunately, due to reasons known to everyone, the number of such less-aware people is huge and there is a lot we need to tell them about such fraudsters.
For those who are not familiar, when victims call the mentioned number they are asked for a advance fee to get their application processed. They call it processing fee. This fee can be anywhere from Rs. 500 to Rs. 50,000 or even more (all depending on the innocence and interest of victims). This up-front processing fee is transferred to the culprits through mobile cards or branch-less banking funds transfer facility. Once done, these numbers are never attended and victims end-up with nothing in hands.
And by the way, we have more clippings of similar kinds of ads — while means, this is not one of its type activity. The trend is on the rise and we have to stop it.
What Papers Need to Do?
While we understand that an un-educated, less-aware person living in far-flung areas of the country might not judge the intentions of such fraudsters, newspapers (and their editors) should pay some amount of attention on what they are publishing.
While not every ad (in classified section) can be verified, a simple proof-reading could have alerted the desk guys to get this ad off-air.
Papers need vigilant eyes that should pay more attention on what is being approved and what is not.
What Individuals Should Do?
- There is no free lottery, free prizes any sort of monetary advantage that you can get out of random. This simply doesn’t happen in real life.
- Don’t trust, or even listen/read to such offers, they are simply fake
- Never ever transfer/send anything to anyone as a processing fee, or shipment charges or in any other form of charges.
- Report these numbers to your cellular companies or Police and tell them the whole story (while celco’s/police may never take any action, but we as responsible citizen should report such cases)
- Spread the word. Tell everyone in your circle that these schemes are just fraud and they don’t earn you anything. Tell this to every known person to you.
What PTA and Cellular Companies Should Do?
We have repeated this time and again, unregistered numbers are the main reason behind all this. Get your records sorted out at earliest and make sure that every SIM used in this country is registered with the person who is using it.
While we commend the deployment of biometric verification for issuance of each new SIM, cellular industry has still a lot to do. Complete elimination of unregistered SIMs is only possible when each and every SIM that is not verified through biometric system gets blocked.
What Law-Enforcement Agencies Should Do?
- Nothing. You are good with what you are doing, i.e. doing nothing and leaving this nation in the hands of fraudsters.