The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association of SA (WASPA) has urged mobile phone users to be vigilant after a series of fraudulent SMS messages targeted cellphone users with promises of monetary rewards.
This particular SMS scam appears to be similar to the 419 scams routinely reported worldwide. The latter are named after the section of the Nigerian penal code which prohibits them.
WASPA received reports of mobile phone users being targeted with similar SMS messages in the US and the UK, which indicates the problem is not confined to South Africa and more than likely did not originate in this country.
“The fact that 419-type scams have made it onto the mobile phone is an unfortunate development. It illustrates how fraudsters constantly refine their nefarious activities to take advantage of every technological platform available to them. WASPA urges cellphone users to delete these messages as soon as they are received,” says Neil Hutchinson, WASPA management committee member.
WASPA believes no legitimate South African WASP is connected with these messages. The fact that the SMS messages were sent across multiple networks in multiple countries would indicate this.
The SMS messages are simply a way of making contact with potential victims in the same way that 419 fraudsters have tended to use email to defraud unsuspecting persons.
WASPA states that, according to the trends that have been reported, it appears users are not charged to receive the fraudulent SMS messages. This means securing direct money transfers from a victim’s to a fraudster’s bank account appears to be the ultimate goal of the messages.