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Hi-tech scammers and GSM text messages

By Ifeoma Tete Mbuk

Wonders shall never end. It has been reported how unsuspecting Nigerians are being defrauded by unscrupulous persons purporting to be representing telecommunication companies. Only last Saturday, my neighbour, Efe, received a text message which said “CONGRATS!!! You are among the 20 lucky winners of N1million in the ongoing THANK YOU OFFER with ticket No. P286, call 0802-1130—- for claims NOW” The message came from one of the big telecommunication companies in the country. Efe called the number and a male voice answered and introduced himself as Kolawole Williams. He told Efe to proceed to any FCMB or Unity bank ATM to encash the N1million.

He added that a formal invitation and flight ticket will be sent to her later to join the other winners in Abuja for the presentation ceremony and party. Unknown to Kolawole, Efe was suspicious of the call from the very beginning, so she quickly called the Call Centre of the GSM company for confirmation. “It is a scam”, she was warned.

Efe decided to get to the bottom of it. She called Kolawole a second time to explain to her what to do when she gets to the ATM. He told her that she would be given a 15-digit number that would enable her access the N1million in cash. Efe regretted her inability to go to the bank that day because it was raining heavily. She suggested to go the next day, but Kolawole quickly informed her that the offer was valid for only 24hours and also advised her to beware of the prying eyes of the security men at the ATM premises who may compromise her PIN if unprotected.

Efe put a third call through. This time it took a long time before Kolawole answered. Pretending to be at the ATM, she asked Kolawole to direct her on what to do.
Kolawole: Insert your ATM card.

Efe: Which card? You did not tell me to bring along a card, and besides, I don’t bank with this bank.
Kolawole (very furious):Don’t you have a bank account? Don’t you have an ATM card?
Efe: Well, Well….ehh. Ok, let me search my bag. Yes, my ATM card is here.
Kolawole: Now insert your ATM

Efe (pretending to have inserted a card): Done
Kolawole: Is your account current or savings?
Efe: Savings
Kolawole: Press “Savings”
Efe: Done

Kolawole: What is the message?
Efe: Kolawole, you should tell me the message to expect. Please guide me.
Kolawole: Now key in this number-008***
Efe: Done.

Kolawole: Now key in this 15-digit number – 217************
At this point, Efe’s patience had expired. She began to rein abuses at him.  Kolawole quickly cut off the line of communication. Efe shook her head in disbelief.

It is advisable not to act on any text message promising you large sums of money because it could be another scam. Fraudsters have gone hi-tech in their effort to dupe unsuspecting citizens. Some people have also fallen prey because of their greed for money. Others have selfishly kept such transactions to themselves hoping to make a kill. In the end, they are hopelessly drained of their life savings and only then do they disclose their ordeal to others. Money does not come that easy, you have to work hard to earn it. When you are in doubt of any text message, always find time to double-check with the relevant authorities before you act. It could be a new trick to defraud you; the hi-tech way.

“Customers are like a swarm of bees. Without the honey, there is no attraction.”
*Culled from A Handbook of Customer Service Quotes.


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