Qtel issues alert after exposing fake lottery scam
Telecom giant sends out warning after customers are targeted by fraud calls, SMS.
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.