Qtel issues alert after exposing fake lottery scam

Telecom giant sends out warning after customers are targeted by fraud calls, SMS.

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By  Andy Sambidge Published  May 5, 2009

Qtel on Tuesday warned its customers about a fake lottery scam, where fraudsters try to convince people to purchase and send the details of prepaid Hala scratch cards on the pretext that they have won a major prize.

The fraud operates by contacting customers, either by phone or by SMS, to tell them they have won the grand prize in a major draw, and that – after providing “verification details” – they will be eligible to collect the prize.

As well as these details – which include personal data such as bank account numbers, family names and dates of birth – the fraudsters ask that people buy scratch cards worth QR500 and provide the numbers as security for when they collect the prize.

The callers – who claim to be contacting Qatar-based customers “from Qtel’s headquarters in Dubai” – have been traced to Pakistan, and their whereabouts reported to the authorities.

Since the scam was detected on April 30, Qtel has successfully contacted the fraudsters pretending to be a customer, recorded the full details and mechanics of the fraud and traced all calls made from the fraudsters’ numbers.

In total, over 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 calling Qatar, the details of the original PIN numbers traced and logged, and all necessary information and recordings have been passed to the authorities.

Qtel said it was making the details of the operation public, partly to prevent members of the public falling for this and similar fraud, and also as a warning about the extent to which SMS and GSM fraud can be traced and punished internationally.

“Criminals need to know that they will be traced and caught if they attempt to defraud people in Qatar. We have processes in place that very quickly allows us to pinpoint and locate the fraudsters, and report them to the authorities,” said Adel Al Mutawa, executive director of Group Communications, Qtel.

Qtel launched an awareness campaign against “Spam” and fraudulent messaging in the summer of 2008, and has been actively addressing the situation carefully since then.

3503 days ago

Etisalat Customer Targeted why not Etisalat do the operations like Qtel to catch fraudesters which are defrauding the clients of Etisalat. Today technology should be good enough to block the Pins fraus people collect block their IP addresses, mobile Phone numbers etc. and reissue the pin to one who has spent the money.

3577 days ago
Ibrahim Quazi

Not only Qtel and Qatar but UAE is also inflicted by this virus called Fake Lottery Scam. I don't know whether Etisalat & DU are doing anything on this or not but I definitely feel that after they were exposed, these fraudsters have targetted Dubai and to the point that my wife's cel was targetted right after mine. This sets me thinking to what extent these fraudsters have penetrated Etisalat's security. They have most people's cel numbers from UAE. Someone please stop them...

3578 days ago
Michael Contaratos

Well done Qtel. I wish more woud follow your example. I've been flooded, every day for the past 12 months, with similar e-mails and, quite frankly, in lottery winnings I rank myself as a multi millionaire!

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