Why is it that we’re so gullible?
I even considered for a whole second that my colleague had cross-checked the following SPAM before posting it on our IRL noticeboard. Please note that the following text originally had really bad-for-your-eyes fonts and colours. 😉
Urgent Warning from
Cell C, Vodacom & MTN!
[business card of a “Legal Representative” of the Special Investigating Unit]
If you receive a phone call on your mobile from any person, saying that, he or she is
a company engineer, or saying that they’re checking your mobile line, and you have
to press # 90 or #09 or any other number.
End this call immediately without pressing any numbers.
There is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09 they can
access your ‘SIM’ card and make calls at your expense.
Forward this message to as many friends as you can, to stop it.
All mobile users pay attention if you receive a phone call and your mobile phone
displays (XALAN) on the screen don’t answer the call, END THE CALL IMMEDIATELY,
if you answer the call, your phone will be infected by a virus..
This virus will erase all IMEI and IMSI information from both your phone and your SIM
card, which will make your phone unable to connect with the telephone network. You
will have to buy a new phone. This information has been confirmed by both Motorola
PLEASE FORWARD THIS PIECE OF INFORMATION TO
ALL YOUR FRIENDS HAVING A MOBILE.
The first things that got me thinking was the text denoting authority at the top of the page. Now, bear in mind this is on a noticeboard – not my inbox where my anti-spam senses are at their peak.
Who could possibly have the authority to say they’re sending out a notification on behalf of each of South Africa’s tri-opoly of GSM providers? Okay, so its some “Special” Legal team that sounds government-type. They’re legit – it turns out – but they probably don’t have enough time to take my call asking if this is all true. Absolutely everything on the Internet must be true, especially anything I say. 😛
So anyway, now that we’re over the silliness, let’s break this hoax down:
Bar a business card, which is hardly standard in any industry, there is no official contact information. I’d expect at least a letterhead or a misguided trailing disclaimer.
Presentation and Language
There are actually 2 notices here regarding separate threats however it isn’t obvious without reading the text in full. This is because the paragraphing and grammar are very poor. Government institutions don’t normally issue poorly-worded or paragraphed documentation. Also, why not issue a separate notification regarding each threat separately?
And Lime Green??? bleh
There are no links to further resources
Any warning of this sort would undoubtedly offer further information or advertise the online presence of the institution. Also, perhaps they’d like for you to give feedback on the situation or maybe they’d like us to report on further suspicious activity. But no. Nothing. Just a specific representative’s business card. What if the guy dies, finds a better job, or leaves the country?
“There is a fraud company … “
This means that they haven’t any clue who it is. This is a broad and passive statement. Question whenever someone says “they” or “people who”. Who is this “fraud company”? Where is “there”? And why doesn’t this crack government legal team (who have to use chain mail to spread warnings) let us know through their uber-powerful chain mail network?
“Forward this message to as many friends as you can”
My, oh my. This line has probably been in every chain letter / social engineering virus (my special definition) since sliced bread.
“This information has been confirmed by both Motorola and Nokia.”
They’re trying to prevent you from thinking for yourself and try to verify their claims independently. They’re saying “You’re stupid to check. We already checked for you. :-D”. Of course, in reality, they’re just trying to take advantage of our gullible nature.
“#90 or #09” and “XALAN”
There isn’t any way for you to verify this. Again, question everything. Google’s first page of results is riddled with the words “Cell phone warning hoax”. duh.
If you get a message like the above from your friends, reply and tell them to stop sending spam… and maybe give them a link to this page so they know why. 🙂