Friday, April 15, 2011

Email Scams Migrate to Mobile Phone call Scams

Personal experience

This morning while walking to pick a taxi to work, I received a phone call from a smooth talking fellow. The person on the other end of the line greets me and introduces himself as Mukasa. He goes ahead and asks about how my former colleagues in tanzania are doing.

I respond cheerfully responding that they are all doing well and also that I had left tanzania to work in Kampala. He mentions names of my tanzanian colleagues. This made me think that I had probably met him during the couple of years I had spent in tanzania.



After we have had a bit of chatter about the good times in tanzania and what am doing in Kampala, he goes ahead and calls my mind to attention. Here is how starts:

Mukasa (scammer): John, very nice to hear you are doing so well. Anyway, am also working in hoima. Have you ever been to hoima?

Me: no but i hear its very rich in oil and that there is a lot of land grabbing going on there.

Mukasa (scammer): Ooh, you ought to know your country. Anyway, am based in Hoima and am working with Tullow oil. Now, there is a deal I would like to share with you so that we can both share the huge commissions associated with it.

Me: Ooh, that is great. Tell me about the deal. (in my mind expecting a big website deal)

Mukasa (scammer): Am sorry it is a bit out of your scope of work. But here at Tullow oil, our equipment has broken down for a month now. Our boss, Mr. Brown, wanted to fly to Europe so he could purchase 7 pieces of equipment but I took the initiative to alert him that the same equipment is available here in Kampala. John, this whole deal has about $35,000 worth of commissions!

Me: Oooh my God! That's alot of money! (tagging along but in my mind already labeling it as a scam attempt)

Mukasa: $35,000 is not alot of money John. Now here is what I would like you to do. I would like you to talk to dealer in Kampala so that you can broker the deal. I want you to get a pen and paper so you can write down the details am going to give you.

Me: Man, am walking right now on the street without anywhere to sit to write anything, maybe we can talk later and i can write down the details of the deal.

Mukasa: John, the deal is serious. I want you to go meet Mr. brown when he comes to the airport....

Ooh my mind was already straying away from this conversation that had already taken alot over 10 minutes.

5 Reasons why I figured this to be a scam
1. Person mentioning large sums of US dollar currency. This is the same as the emails we all constantly delete about a huge business deal where someone wants to transfer $1million in your bank. Click here to read my earlier post on scammers.

2. Tullow oil scams in Uganda are becoming a popular catch. They include jobs to work on an oil rig in Hoima, a mzungu would has died in an accident leaving alot of money at place of accident.. etc

3. Person pretending to know me. At first, it did not occur to me, but after my mind classifying conversation as a scam attempt, I realised that it was me volunteering information about my friends and the other person actually only listening!

4. Forget about getting lots of money for free. If you don't tune your mind to turn off when a person mentions getting a lot of money (or millions of money) for free but just participating in a deal, you will always end up as food for scammers.

5. No one discusses big money business over the phone.

Places where scammer may have picked my phone number & details include:

  • facebook profile - so many people who you have as friends
  • mailing lists - where I participate in topical discussions
  • skype, msn, yahoo, gtalk
  • websites where we sign up for free softwares
This was no random call, the scammer had made some homework about me before calling. So be on your guard. Do not rush to put your hard-earned savings into a deal you not had time to think about or seek professional advice if profitable or not.