Those damn cellphone thieves

August 26, 2008

I know this is an old issue, but I feel like rambling about it a little.

I received a rather unconvincing post a while ago about cellphone fraud.  The thing that bugged me was that it was being spread at my work place.  Firstly, by people who have no idea about cellphones and how they function.  Secondly, by people who don’t really understand that they are being the spammers here.  And finally, by people who don’t realise that their standard naive outlook on these things can be rather costly for them.

I reproduce here in full the email as I received it:

Subject:  FW: Urgent Warning from Cell C & Vodacom

Dear All,

If you receive a phone call on your mobile from any person, saying
that, he or she is a company engineer, or saying that they’re checking
your mobile line, and you have to press # 90 or #09 or any other number.
End this call immediately without pressing any numbers.

There is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09
they can access your ‘SIM’ card and make calls at your expense. Forward
this message to as many friends as you can, to stop it. All mobile user
s pay attention if you receive a phone call and your mobile phone
displays (XALAN) on the screen don’t answer the call, END THE CALL
IMMEDIATELY, if you answer the call, your phone will be infected by a
virus..

This virus will erase all IMEI and IMSI information from both your
phone and your SIM card, which will make your phone unable to connect
with the telephone network. You will have to buy a new phone. This
information has been confirmed by both Motorola and Nokia.

PLEASE FORWARD THIS PIECE OF INFORMATION TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS HAVING A
MOBILE.”

My first observation about this email was that apparently only two of the four cellphones providers in my country is effected by this phenomenon.  This immediately made my bullshit alarm start tingling.  Why on earth would ONLY those two companies be effected and not the others?  In an attempt to start figuring out an answer to this question I decided to start searching for some answers.

I did a cursory search for cellphone fraud and almost immediately came up with these hits:

http://www.snopes.com/fraud/telephone/jailcall.asp

We can see that there is a partial truth to the claim if it were for telephone fraud.  Sadly, the claim in the original email is for cellphones.

http://www.issafrica.org/PUBS/CRIMEINDEX/99VOL3NO5/Cellular.html

This is the results of a poll on cellphone fraud.  We can clearly gather that the original mail is rather untruthful about it’s claims.  I personally can’t help but be suspicious with the poor appeal to authority by adding a picture of a “Special Investigating Unit”.  Also, at the end of the email the appeal to “a better nature” by asking the email to be spread around is a dead giveaway.

I firmly believe that not being skeptical about claims like these is to a person’s detriment in the long run.

/end ramble

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4 Responses to “Those damn cellphone thieves”

  1. Renier said

    You are right, it is an old and very irritating issue. People are so gullible. These type of emails are nothing more than the standard fear-mongering. It’s on par with the crap like “if you pass this email on to 5 friends your wish will come true and blah blah blah”. It’s spam and utterly useless.

  2. Jellybean said

    I hate it when my mother and relatives fall for this crap.

    Rival companies can stoop so low sometimes.

  3. Art Zimmer said

    I suppose that the author of the “perfect god” should have been the god of us all, since she seems to know what it takes to be “perfect.” It must be wonderful to be so all-knowing! Also, it must be the rarest of abilities to be able to judge the validity of all published knowledge available to the world.

    The test tree in the garden of Eden (by the way, where do you get this knowledge if not from the Bible account?) does not betray the imperfection of God; it was His way of “perfecting” ( maturing by choices) man whom He had made “in His image, after His likeness”–capable of reason and of making moral decisions. To choose independence, as the record tells us, breached the outworking of God’s intent of free-moral-agents that we humans are. The animal world is not endowed with this capability, but was made sub-servient to man.

    The accounts of “days of creation” certainly, without any need for a strained interpretation, fits the observable pattern of the universe–days, seasons and times. The universe moves on some sort of time clock from its inception to its ending, also described ahead of time in our Bible. Any other philosophy of either the origin of all things as well as of its continuance and/or conclusion is pure speculation open to anyone’s notions and imaginations.
    True testable and repeatable science has no conflict with the simple and plain accounts given in the Bible. The earth’s geological records also are in agreement, including the verification of ancient places and cultures accounted for in the Bible.

    Finally, no amount of human reasoning will ever generate rest and peace of mind in one who desires a free moral conscience; only FAITH in what God has revealed to us will. Our (;yes, “fallen state”) human condition is in itself imperfect, and in no case is a reliable source of a perfect understanding of this world.

    Art

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