By: Zulfiqar Ali Khan
The mushroom growth of mobile services in Hunza and Nagar valleys has ended the isolation of these remote communities but the simple people have become easy target of big city fraudsters through mobile phone scams of different kinds. A common one is the good tiding one receives of having won a huge sum in a lottery to claim which the winner is required to pay a small amount towards completion of formalities. Once that amount has been paid, the award givers vanish from the scene.
Mobile phone companies are unable to catch he fraudsters as according to National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) records there are about 2.85 million subscribers who are untraceable. People also blame cellular companies for looting the subscribers by hiding different premium numbers.
To cheat mobile users in Hunza-Nagar the cheats are using two different tactics — text messages and surprise calls. The subscribers are congratulated for winning a big cash prize or car in a lucky draw.
In order to collect the prize the subscribers need to transfer mobile balance of different values through easy-loads. It’s a massive fraud and hundreds of people have lost money in the hands of such criminals.
The other type of fraud, which has recently come to notice of many people, is the unsolicited phone call congratulating the subscriber on winning a car or any other big prize in a lucky draw scheme of some food company. The prospective victim is told that before he/she can claim the prize, he/she must transfer money online to complete the initial processes.
A person, from Aliabad, Hunza, reported to this correspondent: ‘I am aware of such frauds but they trapped me in such an organised way that I fell prey to these criminals’. He said one evening he received a call about winning a car. On inquiry, he was told he had filled a coupon during a promotional drive with his NIC number etc that was used by the food company in the lucky draw. He was directed to contact the GM of the company to claim his prize. The GM told him the car would be delivered to him in two days from Karachi in the presence of two witnesses. They later agreed to cargo the car on payment of Rs30,000 for transport and other formalities.
He said he had long discus sions with about 10 different people on eight different numbers of four famous cellular companies and finally made online transfer of the money in a bank account of UBL in Karachi. He said the next day he received another phone call from the truck driver who demanded transfer of Rs20,000 as custom duty required to enter Punjab from Sindh.
“For the first time I felt that something was wrong. The person called me several times and I decided to send a person from Rawalpindi to pay the custom dues. But there was nothing there”, he said.
All the contact numbers had also gone silent, he said, and the bank also had no clue as the account had been opened on fake papers. The account holders had vanished after withdrawing a huge deposit. Though he had lost Rs30,000, he wanted other people to beware of such fraudsters and the mobile companies to do something against misuse of the cell phones by criminals. He also regarded the recent online verification system introduced by Nadra as ineffective to stop such cases as the criminals can easily access the details of the subscribers needed for verification. Also at Dawn