Junior cell phone network provider beMOBILE last week revealed that its subscribers had fallen victim to fraudsters who initiated scam phone calls to Turkey and Tunisia.
Through its mother company, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), beMOBILE revealed that it recently detected an unusual trend of calls emanating from Botswana to Liberia. The root cause of the unusual trend of phone calls, said beMOBILE, was a spam SMS sent to subscribers requesting or causing them to make calls to the source.
“The SMSes were sent from number 231332552275, urging subscribers to call the number. So far 3185 calls with a total duration of 930.0001 minutes were made,” said BTCL Public Relations Manager Golekanye Molapise.
The total number of calls from 4th to 31st March 2015 was 2365, with a total duration of 635.6667 minutes. From 1st to 30th April, beMOBILE clients made 461 calls with a total duration of 163.5667 minutes. An additional 362 calls totaling 130.7667 minutes were made from 1st to 20th May 2015.
All these calls, totaling 3185 with a duration of 930.0001 minutes, went to Liberia. Molapise further revealed that the calls went on a high from 4th to 31st March and decreased between 1st and 30th April, further going down from 1st to 20th May after the company issued an SMS alert warning customers against responding. However, over the two months, the Corporation was negatively impacted in terms of revenue amounting to P7271.94 as charges for interconnections. Molapise further said beMOBILE picked up an unusual trend of calls going to Tunisia, apparently in response to an SMS that said “call now urgent 0021677429923 to get your cheque from the bank.”
“It is our responsibility to help protect our customers from such activity which could result in them losing their hard earned cash by calling such numbers where international call rates apply. There is also potential for identity theft with subscribers divulging their banking and other personal details. Such fraudulent activity also impacts negatively on the Corporations revenues,” said Molapise.
He pointed out that BTCL has a robust management system which was able to pick up on such activity, adding that the Corporation was alerted to such activity by walk-in customers who wanted to claim prices they had supposedly won.
“We were able to detect an unusual trend of calls going to Liberia, Tunisia, Moldova and the Solomon Islands through our recent interconnect statistical analysis. However, this is not to say that such activity was confined to those countries. Meanwhile, we have sent a communiqu├® to our subscribers through bulk SMSes urging them to ignore such messages as they did not originate from our network ,” said Molapise in conclusion.