Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fraudulent promos, sites worry operators

Operators of telecommunications across the networks in the country are now worried over the avalanche of fraudulent websites and promotions as well as the use of their trademarks for fraudulent purposes by scrupulous people.

ITRealms Online recalled that recently a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) had warned that it was not employing or hired any other recruitment agency apart from its human resource unit, to front for the company in engagement of staff, even as the operator disclaimed a website which was demanding money from people in pretence to register them for job opportunities in the telecom firm.

Just a fortnight ago, a leading Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and the Second National Operator (SNO), Globacom raised alarm over the usage of their recently ended promotions or even the on-going ones to engage subscribers fraudulently.

The unfortunate aspect is that these fraudulent acts could still be perpetrated through these networks as even Short Messaging Services (SMS) are deployed in the ugly scheme, most at times with cloned customer care numbers.

Alerting telecom users on its network on the fake promo website, Globacom said, it has become imperative for them nationwide to be wary of the activities of fraudsters who are bent on exploiting the on-going Glo Win n Rule promo to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians.

A press statement signed by its Executive Director, Legal Services at Globacom, Mrs. Gladys Talabi and made available to ITRealms Online, said the unscrupulous persons have designed a fake website, to defraud un-suspecting innocent Nigerians.

“What they do is to send SMS to innocent subscribers informing them that they have won huge sums of money in the ongoing Glo Win & Rule promo. They then ask the subscriber to call a number or go to the promo website to provide detailed information required to claim their prizes,” Mrs. Talabi said.

According to her, such information may then form the pool of resources which the swindlers could use to exploit the innocent subscribers, explaining that on the fake website, the scammers wrote: ‘’If you have received a message from our SMS Gateway as one of the promo winners, you are requested to verify your code here.”

She also enlightened that the fake site then provides links to other pages where personal information about the subscriber are to be provided, which include age, address, next of kin and so on.

Globacom, therefore, said, it had already sent SMS to alert its subscribers to beware of the fraudulent text messages.

“Officials of the telecom company disassociated Globacom from the website, promising that it would work with relevant government agencies in the country to combat the menace of cyber crime,” part of the statement read.

Clarifying that Globacom, does not send SMS to its subscribers when they win in any promo.

“Apart from this, when subscribers are called to inform them of their winning, they are directed to go to Globacom office nearest to them, where they meet Glo staff openly to verify their ownership of the line and to confirm their identity only.

Besides this, no other personal information is requested,” Mrs. Talabi stressed.
Hence, Globacom advised its subscribers to beware of such fraudsters whose stock in trade is not just to rip people of their hard earned money immediately, but also to gather information that would be used to con such subscribers, their families and friends in the near future.

Globacom promised that it would not rest on its oars in rewarding its subscribers in an open, transparent and verifiable manner.

In its own reaction to usage of its trademarks for fraudulent promos and fake websites, MTN Nigeria said it does not use Short Messaging Services (SMS) to call up winners, insisting that subscribers who won in any of its promos are called like Globacom, informed of their win and directed to approach any of its Friendship Centres nationwide, which are painted in the company’s colours.

Chief marketing officer (CMO), MTN Nigeria, Mr. Bola Akingbade, accompanied by the Corporate Services Executive, Mr. Wale Goodluck, at a recent media parley, warned Nigerian subscribers on the network to be wary of fraudulent promotions being perpetuated by a few Nigerians, insisting that MTN does not have any promo tagged ‘Yello Hunt’ for now.

MTN, Akingbade also said concluded its successful Treasure Hunt last February and subscribers need to be cautioned because the operator has never used SMS to notify any winner in its promo, but maintained that any campaign by MTN is carried out to compensate loyal customers and prizes presented publicly.

Hence, the telco has no reason whatsoever to demand sending of recharge cards for winners to redeem their prizes.

“Nigerians must be wary of what scammers are doing. MTN runs promos to reward customers and when people win, we call them and not via text messages,” he declared.

Akingbade equally warned subscribers to disregard any such SMS even if the scammers use his name or the names of any of MTN’s management staff as the sender.

“It does not mean it’s from us and we (MTN) don’t require you (subscriber) to bring this and that before claiming your prize in any of our promos,” he cautioned.

Akingbade explained that the moment a winner emerges in any of the promos and such a person can show proof of ownership, “we will give you your prize.”

Also speaking, the Corporate Services Executive, Mr. Wale Goodluck warned Nigerians, especially those on MTN network not to divulge any of their details to anybody for the sake of releasing their promo prizes.

“Don’t give out any details, be it an account number, Personal Identification Number (PIN) or any other personal details, because MTN does not need such information to redeem your prizes,” he advised.

Citing an instance, that even the MTN Treasure Hunt that ended last month, some Nigerians are still receiving SMS on that, insisting that MTN has no new promo called ‘Yello Hunt’ as being insinuated by fraudsters.

According to Goodluck, in recent times, MTN Nigeria has been mindful of couple of scammers and noted that it’s very necessary to warn Nigerians of this ugly development.

Stressing that technology is a good omen, but a few faceless Nigerians are deploying it negatively, which does not help in the drive to rebrand Nigeria as a country.
MTN Customer Care line, 180, he said, has even been cloned and could be used by these fraudsters to send messages that negate the purposes of technological development, which Nigerians are in dare need of.

Goodluck further decried a situation that has given rise to duplication of the operator’s real website among others.

“The best thing to do when you receive these fraudulent messages is to simply ignore them and delete. Never you reply them,” he advised.

In her comment, General Manager, Corporate Services, Mrs. Funmi Omogbenigun, reiterated that list of winners in any MTN promo is published in national dailies and MTN official website.

She counseled anybody in doubt to make good by contacting any of the MTN friendship centres nationwide for clarification.

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