During the past few years, several news reports mentioned a scheme designed to defraud unsuspecting mobile phone owners. Criminal syndicates send text messages to several phone numbers, informing them that they supposedly won a prize in a promo. In order for the supposed winner to receive their prices, they will be required to text back certain personal details such as a home phone number and other personal details and/or prepare a certain amount to be paid as a processing fee. The mobile phone owner may also be asked to send prepaid cell phone credits/load to the supposed promo organizer. Those who fall into such trap will end with their homes getting ransacked and/or their hard earned money being taken away from them.
Here's how the scheme works:
Believing that the text announcement is real, the unsuspecting consumer may accede to the request to give the “processing fees” being asked or prepaid cell phone loads. Little do they know that that will be the last that they will see of their money. In addition, their reply gave the syndicate a new victim to pursue.
Replying with a phone number exposes the cell phone owner's home or office to the syndicates. It gives them a new target to pursue. They may call the house and use the mobile owner's name and cell number to support their claims and lure unsuspecting househelps or family members to give them access to their homes.
In fact simply replying gives the syndicate further encouragement to pursue the mobile phone owners. They can be harassed and threatened to giving in to demands for money and any other anything else that the syndicate may deem valuable. Lately, several variants of such scheme have proliferated and even makes use of email as a medium.
How to detect fraud and deal with text/emailed promos:
Check the text/email message for a DTI promo permit number. The absence of it already constitutes a violation of the law and gives a strong indication that the message is a hoax. By law, every promo should be registered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and every corresponding poster and communication should have prior approval and quote the DTI promo number. If you listen and watch radio and TV promos, you will notice that the DTI promo numbers are always mentioned.
If the promo comes with a supposed DTI promo number, call up the DTI hotline and verify its validity through the promo details mentioned in the text message. If the promo is proven to be a hoax, report the violation in order for the government to run after the criminals.
For any consumer complaint, please contact:
THE DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
Email (direct from their site) : http://www.dtincr.ph/complaint_page.php
Phone : (02) 751.3330
Website: I-reklamo (undergoing enhancement and will be online soon)