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.
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?