Pakistan-based fraudsters who tried to cheat people in Qatar by offering big prizes after convincing them to buy and send details of prepaid (Hala) scratch cards, have been identified by Qtel.
The fraudsters usually operate by contacting Qatar residents, either by phone or SMS, and telling them that they have won the grand prize through a major draw.
The fraudsters then seek “verification details prior to awarding prizes” to customers.
Besides seeking personal data such as bank account numbers, family names and dates of birth, the fraudsters ask people to buy Hala scratch cards worth QR500 and provide the numbers as security for prize collection.
The fraudsters who identify themselves as callers from “Qtel’s headquarters in Dubai” have since been traced to Pakistan, and their whereabouts reported to the authorities concerned.
Since identifying the scam on April 30, Qtel personnel “successfully contacted” the fraudsters by pretending to be customers, and recorded the full details and mechanics of the fraud in addition to tracing all calls made from the fraudsters’ numbers.
“More than 500 calls were made to Qatar in a 24-hour period, reflecting the speed with which the fraudsters operate.
“The numbers used by the fraudsters have since been blocked from Qatar, the details of the original PIN (personal identification number) traced and logged, and all necessary information and recordings passed on to the law enforcement authorities concerned,” a Qtel spokesman said.
Qtel said that it is publicising such information to prevent more people from being cheated by such fraudsters.
“Criminals need to know they will be traced and caught if they attempt to defraud people in Qatar,” said Qtel (Group Communications) executive director Adel al-Mutawa.
“We have processes in place that very quickly allows us to pinpoint and locate the fraudsters, and report them to the authorities,” he added.
Qtel launched an awareness campaign against spam and fraudulent messaging in the summer of 2008, and has been addressing the situation since then.
As the Qatar market opens up to new entrants in the telecommunication services sector, Qtel has noted an increase in the number of illegitimate operators looking to “harvest” the mobile phone numbers of Qtel customers.
As well as safeguarding their mobile phone numbers, Qtel also advises customers to exercise caution when they receive calls or messages made from unknown telephone numbers or persons.
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