Mobile scams spreading to other mediums, warns WASPA.

Published on: 7th November 2010

The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (WASPA) has warned mobile consumers to be on the lookout for scams that use the names of established wireless application service providers (WASPs) to deceive victims into parting with their money.

The Association further cautions that there are a number of scams making use of other mediums, besides mobile technology, to defraud cellular users by promising them opportunities to claim money they have allegedly won or by offering them giveaways.

Although many of the scammers operate by SMS, a worrying trend is that many are starting to use email or even snail mail to try and trick their victims into depositing money into their accounts.

One of the latest examples of such scams sees the scammers fraudulently pose as Zed Mobile, a credible mobile content provider and a member of WASPA. The scammers have delivered their scam message to a number of people by post, email and fax.

The targets are asked to deposit cash, amounting to several thousands of Rand, into a bank account to ostensibly cover courier costs and insurance and to facilitate the payment of their so-called “lottery winnings.” Zed’s attention was brought to the scam by members of the public phoning in to find out more about their prizes after looking up its number with directory services.

Needless to say, the lottery prizes do not exist. Said Leon Perlman, chairman of WASPA, “We urge members of the public to be vigilant about these scams, which are in nature similar to 419 email stings. Do your homework whenever anyone asks you to pay in an amount to claim a prize. In most cases, you will find that the prize does not exist.

“Aside from the government-licensed Lotto, lotteries are illegal in South Africa, so be sceptical if someone advises you out of the blue that you have won a lottery. Some of the SMS messages, letters and emails we have seen are very convincing, so treat any unsolicited communications you get with scepticism.”

WASPA and its members are taking a proactive approach to fighting this sort of fraud. WASPA urges any member of the public who has fallen prey to such a scam to get in touch. WASPA will use this information to alert the public to new scam techniques and to refine their own approaches to fighting scammers.