GSM Short Code Service or Fraud!

Written by NaijaEcash

Topics: Nigerian, small business

The GSM Short Code Service has suddenly become another platform for fraudster to rip-off gullible Nigerians.  It is a case of robbing several gullible Peters to pay one Paul, while pocketing the remaining  proceed.  Here is my personal observation. I noticed some months back that I kept receiving unsolicited SMS from strange five digit numbers. Each one requesting that I send SMS to the five digit number in other to win a million naira or some other fantastic gifts.

FIFA 2010 World Cup was used as a bait

The volume of such SMS increased as the FIFA 2010 world cup football competition started.  I started receiving as much as three such unsolicited SMS messages per day. I guess the euphoria provided by the world cup created a conducive atmosphere for those behind this new scheme to con unsuspecting Nigerians into parting with their money.

Some of my friends played the SMS Short Code Lottery

Some of my friends actually sent SMS to those five digit numbers, expecting that they will win a million naira or some other fantastic gift. One of them confessed that he didn’t realize when he sent as much as N1,000 in piece meal to such short codes. Yet he won nothing. I am yet to meet one person that has won anything from such.  Never mind adverts on Television and Radio stations, those are just part of the gimmicks to con unsuspecting Nigerians into responding to such SMS.

GSM Short Code Fraud!

Naturally, I don’t like lottery. I believe it is morally wrong to collect money from several individuals and then give a small percentage of it to one individual while the rest of the contributors go away empty handed.  I consider such an illegitimate way of making money since the odd is always in the favor of the one who organizes such lottery.

It is personal greed that makes people not to bother about the fact that for every one person that wins a lottery, there are thousands that have lost money into the organizers pocket. So the organizer can best be describe as a legalized con artist. He collects from all with fake promise but only part with a fraction of what he collects! I know this sounds controversial, but that is my humble opinion. Back to the topic, GSM Short Code Service.

Is Anybody Regulating the GSM Short Code Service?

To the best of my understanding, the GSM Short Code Service in Nigeria is presently being used for lottery  (the government agency responsible for licensing such activity however is in slumber, so every Tom, Dick and Harry are carrying out the activity without obtaining lottery license).

BlackBerry Bold Offered For Thirty Naira (20cents)!

You feel that is outrageous. Well, that is the kind of offer I received. I’ve reproduced verbatim the SMS I received. It offered me a BlackBerry Bold worth N63,000 for a token 20cents if only I agree to be greedy enough to part with 20cents.

From 33114

Get a chance to win a blackberry Bold this week as the World Cup Quiz comes to an end. Simply text START to 33114 and you could be the Ultimate Winner! N30/SMS

What do you think? An outrageous offer? Sounds too good to be true? Well, let’s keep the emotions out of this and be factural. If you analyse the SMS message above, you will notice the following facts:

1. The subscriber is being asked to acquire a Blackberry Bold for N30 (ordinarily, one will need about N63,000 to purchase one here in Nigeria)

2. The message stated clearly that the subscriber could be the Ultimate Winner! (at least the sender was fair enough to indicate that this is nothing but a gamble. Since the subscriber is greedy enough to want a Blackberry Bold that is worth sixty-three thousands naira for just thirty naira)

3.The bet is placed once the subscriber responds to the SMS.

Since I love maths, I quickly did a little calculation and discovered that it only takes 2,100 gullible or greedy people to pay for the Blackberry, then the rest of the fund realized will simply be counted as profit by the person who set up the GSM short code.

Unfortunately, it is not all that even part with a gift. Someone was bold enough to confess that he simply pocket the money without parting with anything of value to the subscribers. The claim was made in a forum, so it wasn’t possible to identify the fellow. But it goes a long way to reveal that responding to such SMS is foolish as you will be making someone rich at your own expense.

Are the Nigerian Telecoms Operators Collaborators?

It bothers me that the GSM operators in Nigeria are willingly or unconsciously collaborating with the con artist in this rip-off. The GSM Short Code Service has suddenly become the new way some fraudulent Nigerians are robbing others of their hard earned cash. They have become so successful that they are now making boast of their nefarious activities. One of them even claim it is a new way of making money online!

If you’ve been enriching others by responding to such stupid SMS messages, I advice you stop as you may never win a dime. Even if you indeed win something, your conscience will prick you that you are enjoying what was deceitfully stolen from others.  I might be sounding religious, but that is the truth, you can deny it all you like.

I will like to hear others opinion on the legitimacy or otherwise of the GSM Short Code Service. If it is not fraud, then what is it?

44 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Ewealths says:

    They are just trying to play on our greed, of course and the network are just keeping quiet, since they would get their of share of whatsoever amount of sms that was sent, good luck if you ever win!!!

    • NaijaEcash says:

      Someone claim that the Telecoms Providers share out of the proceed of such Short Code Services. I don’t know how true that is. Though I guess they couldn’t have given out the code for free in the first place. There must be some sort of payment for leasing the code out. But even at that, the Telecoms Providers owes it as a duty to Nigerians to ensure that their service is not being used as a platform for defrauding innocent people. They have the capacity to monitor what those codes are being used for, and ban users who are abusing the system.

  2. ImGRiA says:

    it was very interesting to read
    I want to quote your post in my blog. Can I?
    And do you have an account on Twitter?

  3. khvc says:

    I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?

  4. Bakare O. O. says:

    Yes, the short code thing is a program an individual enters as a result of greed so you can’t blame anyone for their misfortune. For the operators, they have percentage of the revenue, 40% i learned. we only blame those who participate in the get rich quick scheme, not the perpetrators. There are valid uses of the code messaging but it is been abused.
    Bakare O. O.´s last blog post ..Factors for Success in Marriage – Love

    • NaijaEcash says:

      I agree with you that there are legitimate uses for the GSM Short Code Services. It is a great tool for businesses and corporate organization to communicate with their customers. It is a pity that it got hijacked by fraudster and the service providers were pretending like they didn’t know what was happening. I read somewhere that NCC has officially informed the GSM service provider to stick to their operation licenses and not get involve in any activity that resemble lottery. Let’s see how far that warning will dissuade them from collaborating with the “get rich quick” scammers.
      I love your blog. Nice work you’re doing there, please keep it up. Cheers.

  5. Joe says:

    I am really surprised that the shortcode is currently not managed by a body in Nigeria.
    This leaves me with the question. Whom do you contact to get a shortcode that works for all GSM operators in Nigeria. I am looking for a reliable one.
    Your site is good.Keep it up. Don’t forget to check us out at:

    Can I Post Ad for free in Nigeria, Yes You can on
    Can I find jobs, scholarships,Items for sale etc? Yes You can on
    Yes We are Nigeria No 1 Free Classifieds

  6. Bakare says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope the NCC will not go full blast blocking all and sundry from using the short code? I am just trying to develop another blog on inspiration which I intend to use short code with to motivate others to keep the flame of life glowing and to help in keeping our focus on God.
    Bakare´s last blog post ..Factors for Success in Marriage – Love

    This message is to bring a ray of hope to those either sadden by the recent layoffs in the financial and corporate world in Nigeria and wherever you may be reading this and is apprehensive of what the future might hold.
    As the adage says there is a message in that mess.
    Simple antidotes for combating fear, hurt , disbelief and heartbreak.
    • It is ok to cry and mourn, don’t bottle your emotions, give yourself time to grieve. However please don’t become the following, resentful of others, bitter, angry at the system or someone
    • Be open and candid to Godly counsel, whatever the religious beliefs you belong to.
    • Surround yourself around those that will uplift you and not feel sorry for you to keep fanning the wounds , rather those that will encourage you to pick up the pieces and move on.
    • Speak to yourself, where there is life there is hope.
    • Read about those who failed or fell or lost something but rose up to the challenge to become formidable. Have you heard about Abraham Lincoln one of the greatest presidents that ever ruled America. What of Martha Stewart.
    • This is the time to reconnect with your spouse, especially those that are supportive
    • Seek for wise counsel on the way forward, I encourage not to jump into anything , give yourself time. What is your passion? You may be ripe for it. It is time to take stock of all your resources, cut back on wasteful expenditure, you have no one to impress.
    • Turn all unwanted resources, jewelries, even cars to liquid cash.
    • Save or fix as the bankers say , till you have a plan on what you want to do.
    • Explore all opportunities, either looking for a job with lower pay if you have the connections or network of contacts, or simply seek to create one.
    • To survive especially meeting your family expenses or yours, it is encouraged you have a stream of income, which is called the survival money stream. Investing in an already money making venture which will produce cash flow immediately.
    • Secondly, invest in an income stream that will bring your talent to bare and you have to nurture it and grow it with time
    • Before the last two is done, assess your financial needs, what are your monthly bills like, if you spend over N9000 on Dstv, you may have cut it down to N2,500 for the family bouquet. Same with others. If your generating sets was on 24/7 or immediately the children are back from school you may have to cut it down to when the sun sets
    • Frugality is the watch word.
    • Don’t think of checking out , rather work hard and you will be celebrated.
    For more on this message send me an mail on or you can visit to know my counseling sessions requirements. It is not over till it is over. God bless you.

  8. air classic bw says:

    Yes, the short code thing is a program an individual enters as a result of greed so you can’t blame anyone for their misfortune.
    agree with you

  9. internetpope says:

    I have not really read your article but I feel you may be right also.

  10. adeola ogunbadejo says:

    I love your comments here, but lets look at the Short Codes from different angles, we still have some reliable sources that uses the Short Codes appreciably to contribute to the success and enlightenment of the Nigerians. We still have the ones which are very good and liable, its just that the ones that are good are few. Thanks

  11. jumoke says:

    they dealt with me last year. i did the glo lottery while my brother did treasure hunt. it was a very sad period. i used almost half my salary to play the sms lottery. i agree that it takes two greedy people for a faud to occur!
    jumoke´s last blog post ..Vacancy for female doctors

  12. SmallBiz9ja says:

    Its clear that a little bit of fraud is involved. Or is it acting out on the greedy nature of man? Look at it both ways.

  13. short-code service says:

    TO TEST THIS SERVICE – sms your location to 33810


    setup pricing :

    Dedicated short codes =N 625,000

    shared short code = N130,000


    REVENUE SHARING 60% : 40%



    shared short code = N40,000

    no monthly fee

    REVENUE SHARING = 60% : 40%


    kindly chose a keyword , txt your teller, keyword,email,bank account to 08032706565. setup process last 24hrs.

    Reply with quote Notify of replies
    2 Forums / Education / Re: Ussafrica- A Claimed Scholarship Board on: May 09, 2009, 03:29 PM


    This Trans – Atlantic education service is organised with the help of canadian embassy in nigeria,

    more information , will be available later. or call 2348032706565,

    • NaijaEcash says:

      This looks like one of those cut & paste spam. But then I won’t be surprise if the guy who pasted this have been making money from some unsuspecting Nigerians with the promise of getting them a placement in a College in Canada. I allowed this particular SPAM COMMENT to give readers an idea of what they usually look like. The commenter above surely have nothing to offer after collecting your cash!

    • uchenna says:

      Are you a criminal?
      uchenna´s last blog post ..How Much Money Will I earn Through Adsense


    well mr naijaEcash , and all house of forum. i will not protest this as matter of facts and figures , but i would like to demonstrate my claim.

    many look for want , some look for need but seekers…… goes beyond that. my content may look unreal, un obtainable becos many of us claim what they are not, IT field is vast to be contained in a small head.

    mr NaijaEcash you may have been duped for real becos of wrong implication or organise misuse of thought by some people but that can not change the true color of truth.

    1. first for all pls have you tested the service as posted before your comments. you may sent any thing i will repost it to these forum that the service works.

    2. which companies in nigeria have your approach for short code and get defrauded. why becos there is regulation and criteria before setup.

    3. i wish to simply say i can setup a short code in less than 24hrs.

    33810, 32810, 35810

    this is to calm your anxiety and manner of approach to issue.

    4. yes nigerians has right to have placement in any international organised institution , this is not a promise

    MAY BE THIS WRONG FORUM TO SHARE THIS INFORMATION . but for those seekers that wish to go beyond shadows of fear, pls check

    you will have to go assessment test for those from africa.

    • NaijaEcash says:

      It seems you didn’t bother reading my post well before you jumped to conclusion. I appreciate the fact that GSM Short Code Service is just a tool for communication. It is not bad in itself and a lot of genuine businesses are using it to provide needed information to their clients. However, I still insist that the service has been hijacked in Nigeria by fraudsters who make outrageous promises they have no intention of keeping.
      If you feel my claims are wrong, then disprove with facts and figures. Until you do that, I’ll keep my present conclusion as expressed earlier in my post above.

  15. Bakare says:

    You shouldn’t have allowed this spam, this is outright sales pitch that shouldn’t have been allowed.
    Bakare´s last blog post ..Factors for Success in Marriage – Understanding

    • NaijaEcash says:

      I agree with you that the comment was sounding more like a sales letter. However, in order to buttress my earlier points in the post, it is sometime necessary to publish such, so that readers will be able to judge for themselves that indeed, such exist. The commenter obviously wasn’t interested in my post, he or she was more interested in making another sale. 😉

      • trivierlogan says:

        I believe that as long as the Short Code Service advertises the cost of the call, there’s no offence committed, even where there is no clear winner.

        The onus is upon the user to decide whether he wants to take a chance at the ‘lottery’ for a small ‘charitable’ fee. It would be his fault if he chooses to donate N30 ten times out of greed or gullibility.

        The telecoms operators are in it for business. Charging N20 per minute for a call is what makes them afford to be the big employers of labour they are today.

        I neither work in telecoms nor yet operate premium short code service.

  16. Bakare says:

    Maybe to let others judge for themselves, but for me i will not allow such spammy post to be published. cheers
    Bakare´s last blog post ..Factors for Success in Marriage – Understanding

  17. Joe Omafo says:

    It’s a complete fraud. See the craftiness zain uses in their 555 code fraud, I lost over 30k to that scheme last year and I had to throw their SIM into the lagoon when nothing came out of it. Now I’ve gotten another of their SIM (inspite, of warnings I sent thru emails and sms not to be sending such sms to my no) they have started with a new approach with their 888 code, luring you into what you don’t baggain for. So you see, ZAIN NIG happens to be one of the uttermost fraudulent GSM in naija and it’s high time something is done about it.

  18. I like to make comments when i have to, especially when it has to do with my industry. Short code services may have been misused, but short code service is not in any way a problem. Neither is it wrong for anyone to want to express their rights to play mobile lottery. It adds up to the spirit of living.
    Any way, my real point here is that short code service is still new and may be misused and misunderstood. Its understandable, especially in our country where the level of literacy is very low and channels of information dissemination is also largely controlled to preach what some folks want all to hear.
    But we must agree that every business is an offer, including short code lottery. The consumer has a right to say no, just like my brother that went as far as throwing the sim card into a lagoon. Even though we can judge what is right or wrong, but let us also accept that in business, its never meant to be a fair deal.
    Companies are designed to make profit, and in order to achieve that, they can scheme and cheat the consumers. That’s the major reason for advertising – to convince, compel, persuade, or even harass customers into parting with their hard earned money.
    The lesson is for consumers to risk as much as they can bear. Try with a few pennies, if they keep asking for more then know that the chances of winning is much higher for you and back out. God help us all.

    • NaijaEcash says:

      I don’t seem to understand your point at all. Are you subtly justifying the act of defrauding unsuspecting subscribers who were gullible enough to respond to the dubious offers of those short code services con artists?
      The fact that someone is ignorant is no justifiable reason to cheat the fellow. Each of us are ignorant in one area or the other. I am sure we will be upset if we discover that someone is attempting to use our ignorance to cheat us out of hard earned money.
      Take a look at one of the messages that I have received from con-artist using short message services

      sender: 35021
      WIN N500,000 on 30/10 in the October GistMe Quiz Promo. Lagos is in which state? A-Lagos B-Osun C-Ogun. Text answer A,B,or C to 35021 to win. N100/sms

      I know that this is fraud because the answer to the question being asked is obvious. Any Nigerian knows that Lagos is in Lagos State. However, a young fellow e.g. someone in Primary School will be tempted to play and text to 35021 because N500,000 is quite tempting.
      Ordinarily, parents will hardly allow their children to go out to play lottery. But imagine the number of children that will be tempted to participate in above fake Quiz Promo right in the comfort of their room without the knowledge of their parents.
      If anyone desires to go into lottery business, such a person should come out openly and get a license from the government. People should not be sending unsolicited SMS to people as they attempt to trick gullible people into parting with their money. That is fraud. I don’t want to believe you approve of such! 🙁

      • Gab says:

        if you have any complain about fraud via short code, you can send your complain to NCC. Indicate the short code number and the Telecoms Providers that are involve. I am sure they we respond and take necessary action.

  19. RAYMOND says:

    Nigeria is a lawless country. The so called legislators are not ready to carry out their real job of lawmaking.Rather, they are competing with the Executive arm of Government on who can steal the most money and get the most juicy contract. “SHORT CODE” business is a complete menace, especially when it is not controlled and monitored by the appropriate authorities

    • NaijaEcash says:

      Nigeria is not a lawless country. But we do have a lot of lawless leaders. There are laws in place that forbid people exploiting others in order to make money. However, because leaders and they agents turn their faces away and pretend nothing wrong is taking place, the masses get exploited. The GSM Short Code service is meant to be a tool for communication and providing solutions. However, the incompetent government agencies that are meant to serve as regulators for the use of the service are too corrupt to enforce the laws.

  20. aisha says:

    i think fraud is everywhere
    aisha´s last blog post ..WWE Tv World Wrestling Channel

  21. RAYMOND says:

    The fact that there are laws and they are not been implemented means that Nigeria is a lawless society. Thank you.

    • NaijaEcash says:

      I will rather say that we have lawless leaders. There are thousands of law-abiding citizens in Nigeria. They do their best to abide by the written laws of the land. However, we have a very high percentage of our leaders and the elite who believe that such laws are meant for the poor and common people. It is such people that are lawless, not Nigeria as a whole. Thanks for contributing your thought. Cheers.

  22. Mcneri says:

    Oga NaijaEcash I have something to tell you. You see, all these ones that we are doing in Nigeria we have not started. Capitalism breeds greed and greed can only be checked by strong laws. Laws are strong only when they are effectively enforced and the law enforcement agencies get serious when their bosses, the so-called (s)elected officials make sure they do so. However, the officials will only sit up if the PEOPLE, I mean NAIJA PEOPLE force them to. Here in YANKEE (Dora you dey hear?), the companies are crooks to put it lightly. The only limitation these companies have is that the laws are enforced effectively whenever they are found out. Consumer protection exists however despite that, even in USA you still get surveys and things that ask you to register for “A CHANCE TO WIN”. some I will guess never give anyone anything. They will have a loooong terms and conditions sheet and when I say loooong I mean like 17 pages. If you are among the 0.3% of people that will read it, you will see where they said something like this “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT NOT TO AWARD THIS PRICE IF WE DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE REGISTERED”. This is the same gimmick they use with credit cards. the credit card one is still bad despite all the new laws. Nowadays they sneak in 1-9 dollar charges on your card and if you do not call and complain, they continue charging you that little extrra. If you complain, just by a phone call, they give you back your money immediately because of the law enforcement.
    My point is that capitalism is the problem and Nigerians help the matter by not being outspoken enough to be a deterrent to the Government looters. We need to work harder at it, really.

    • NaijaEcash says:

      I agree with your point. However, I think the judiciary have a lot to be blame for also. Never mind the cheap accolade they are getting for upturning election result when the one that stole the people’s mandate has already spent more than 3/4 of the term in office. As far as I’m concerned, the reason why Nigerians hardly fight for their right is because the judiciary often time support the elite and the rich against the poor.

      Look at this scenario.

      A poor man managing a twenty year old car get’s hit from the back by a corrupt politician driving the latest Toyota Land Cruiser. When the poor man complained about the damage on his Benz 200 car, the politician only laughed and drove away telling the poor man to get his “carton” off the road. The poor man who happens to be a British trained philosophy lecturer in a college of education quickly took the plate number of the politician SUV and drove straight to the nearest police station to report the case. After writing statement, he was told that the case will be investigated, but he needs to drive the Police officer to the spot because their is no vehicle available at the station. This he did willingly thinking he was going to get justice. When he called the following day at the station, he was told that the owner of the SUV he reported has been found and the investigation is progress. However, after about one week of constantly checking the police station without getting any positive response, he decided to get a lawyer and sue the politician. Well, the lecturer did sue the politician but the case was adjourned several times. On each occasion the case was meant to be heard, the lecturer appeared in court with his lawyer, but guess what, the politician never appeared once. Someone who understood that the lecturer was been taken on a ride by the corrupt politician advised the lecturer to forget the case and hand it over to God!

      Nigerians are no coward, but after weighing the cost of getting justice, they often abandon the pursuit of such justice. The corrupt politician has the treasury of the nation to loot from. So it cost them nothing to subvert justice by throwing money around. If you are not so rich you will think twice before embarking on a legal battle with any of them, because you might end up loosing more than what you lost initially.

  23. uchenna says:

    I think a company like V2NMobile can give that kind of service

  24. Bakare says:

    Really in the land of blind a one eyed man is king. Whatever the king likes he does with his followers, especially in a country like ours, whatever the enlightened people like they do with the ignorant majority. We all are accountable for the decisions we take and we are to bear the consequences of our actions.
    Bakare´s last blog post ..The saved Marriage- Never a Lonely Road!

  25. waleod says:

    A knife is a good thing because we use it to slice yams, Onions and meat in d kitchen. BUT if a man takes the same knife and stab his fellow man, is it the knife that has become bad or the man who used it for stabbing? The point is Shortcode SMS is a good thing used by many legitimate companies around the world for doing business. BUT if a man uses the same technology to defraud his fellow man, is it the technology that is bad or the man? Abuse (ABnornal USE) will always be there as long as humans are involved. People must just thread with caution when prompted to subscribe to shortcodes. I agree Capitalism fuels greed indeed.

    • NaijaEcash says:

      You are right. Any good tool can be mis-use. I was only referring to the ugly trend happening in Nigeria. For sure GSM Short Code Service is a great tool for communicating and giving support to clients.

  26. Omotunde says:

    pls where can i get a legitimate shortcode service

  27. Ataur Rahman says:

    Respected Sir,
    We want to get Revenue sharing Short/ Long Codes SMS service from your NETWORK. We have a NGO and we want to earn from the Revenue sharing Short/ Long Codes SMS Service like the radio stations who earn from Revenue sharing Short/ Long Codes SMS send to them by the listener. Our aim is to provide free education to the student of BPL families. We have other sources of earnings to provide free education to the students of BPL families. Besides those earnings, earnings from Revenue sharing Short/ Long Codes SMS service will immensely contribute to the Fund of our NGO. So that we can cover the large number of student under our free education services.
    Sir, Please inform us the about the cost of per Revenue sharing Short/ Long Codes SMS if we want to receive Rs. 3.00 in our account from each SMS? Or please inform us about the percentage shared between the Revenue sharing Short/ Long Codes Service Provider and the Service holder.

    Ataur Rahman


    As a reputable shortcode company SMS AlERT NIGERIA offer the cheapest short code services in Nigeria @ just N30,000 only.Visit: or call: 07033770367

  29. WozaTel says:

    There is no fraud as long as the stated prize is given at the end pf the competition.

    In Zimbabwe here companies give cars live on TV and people take their chances and know that its a gamble.

    So you are NOT forced to participate into this are you ?

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