News From Telecom World

Alert: New tricks in mobile balance transfer scam (Pakistan)

Posted on: November 8, 2008

At the moment almost every Mobile Service Provider has offered balance transfer facility between their pre-paid customers. Initially offered by Telenor as smart share it immediately got noticed and everyone else replicated it (Ufone: UShare, Mobilink’s Jazz Share, Warid’s Balance Share & Zong Yaari Load). However none of them initially realized that our market is not literate enough for such service. This eventually gave birth to a scam that is still in its full swing and there are hundreds of complaint on daily basis about customer’s mobile credit stolen by anonymous people.

The scale is so big that during Warid’s balance share launch almost everyone was getting fake messages of getting their balance doubled (asking them to send messages having balance transfer string). Thanks to Warid, the service couldn’t work during initial few days and it saved us all the pain. Even though actions against these numbers involved in this fraud are taken, there is still room for minor structural changes (we will come to that later).

New Twist:
Few days back I was sitting in office when i received a business card with a female title (name). I was busy in something really important at that time so ignored and deleted that business card. However later on I was told by a relative that whats it all about and I was amazed at the mentality of people exploiting such basic functionalities to transfer balance from pre-paid mobile accounts. Here’s how it works

  • You receive a business card with a female name ( Shazia, Nazia or some name starting with letter A).
  • Majority of people get curious and after saving , call the received contact.
  • The received contact doesn’t have a phone number in its number field rather the balance transfer code (i.e. *100*PhoneNumber*150#).
  • There you go, you have lost the balance.

Seems quite impressive as compared to its sms based counterpart.

Remedy:
All these scams can be avoided if some basic checks are enforced by Telcos,

  • Balance is not transferred until you confirm after receiving a verification message.
  • The feature is by default disabled and you have to call help line to get it enabled.
  • Giving the illegal SIMs issue its due respect.

Source: http://www.bonpoo.com (Pakistani Blog)

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