It seems as though I will always be able to turn to hoax e-mails when my idea store runs dry. And even when it does not. I recently received an e-mail with the following warning letter attached;
Urgent Warning from Cell C, Vodacom & MTN!
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 users 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
I have reformatted the e-mail so as not to blind you with the font colours used (bright red and lime green). I have also left out the personal details of Amesh Singh, the person listed as a contact for the Special Investigating Unit, in whose name the above letter is distributed.
I will quickly run through the reasons for why this is a hoax e-mail;
1. I have spoken to Mr. Amesh Singh in person and he confirmed with me that he is not the author of this communication. His business card is being used fraudulently to lend credence to this e-mail. While he cannot confirm the technical details regarding the codes etc, he very firmly wishes to emphasise that his name is being used fraudulently. This letter has been circulating for over a year and Mr. Singh has a taken legal action with the high court and department of communication in this regard.
This fact in isolation is enough to immediately disregard the rest of the e-mail, together with the claims contained therein. However, I will look at a few other red flags to help you spot these hoaxes in future.
2. It is written terribly. The font colours are hideous and the grammar is awful. All together this letter is highly unprofessional, not at all what you would expect from the Legal Representative of the Special Investigative Unit of a governmental department. This is the single most obvious sign that this letter was written by someone with malicious intent.
3. They try to prevent you from doing your own research by saying that it is already confirmed by cellular providers. Once again, anyone who wants you to take their words at face value should probably not be trusted. That includes me.
4. Typical of all hoax e-mails is the attempt to spread panic. The fraud company (what kind of stupid conman would set up a company? Apart from Amway, and all the homeopaths in the world.) will run up a huge phone bill on your account, your phone will be rendered impotent by a virus and you will have to buy another one. I have an acronym for this; they are FUD artists, trying to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
5. Last but not least you are urged to spam this misinformation on to all your friends. This is another glaring red-flag. If you see this you should immediately be sceptical and question what you are reading.
When you receive e-mails like this, please be sensible, don’t spread them to all your friends, just press delete!