SMS Scam 10 March, 2011 - Whether it was a prank or a dig at the Bhutan Telecom, the prankster, who started a message on the B-mobile service requesting to forward the message has done more good than harm to B-mobile.
By last afternoon, the message, which claims to be from a third year student of Sherubtse college, Sonam Diki, requesting people to forward the message, as she would get a 10ch cut from every message forwarded, has circulated to hundreds of subscribers. The message says that the money would be used to transplant an eye, which she lost in an accident and would cost her about Nu 0.8M.
Yesterday, B-Mobile officials rubbished the claims of the college girl and said it could be the work of a prankster. “It’s fake and we’ve never entered into any kind of agreement,” said a B Mobile official in charge of SMS services.
Director of Sherubtse college, Singye Namgyel, confirmed that no college girl had met with any accident or lost an eye, although the college had a girl with the same name. A faculty member received the message yesterday and the college authority quickly carried out an investigation. “There is a girl by the same name, but she didn’t start the message nor did she meet with an accident,” said the director.
B-Mobile tried to trace the origin of the main source of person but failed. “Many people have already started forwarding, so it was difficult to find from where the message originated,” said the official. They said it was started by an individual subscriber, which was impossible to trace. “We tried to call, but the subscriber switched off after we questioned,” the official said.
Officials of Tashi Cell said the number referred in the SMS didn’t exist. A TashiCell said they don’t support such an initiative but said they would definitely try to find out the source if asked. B-Mobile immediately sent an alert message to its customers yesterday not to respond to the request. “This is the only way we can help customers from being fooled,” official said.
Each short message cost 0.45 and the B-Mobile official explained that if anyone proposes them for such help, they would first investigate the matter, review it and finally draw an agreement based on cost sharing. But they didn’t have any record of such a proposal neither initiated one.
Without a proper tool to record the numbers of message exchanged, the numbers of SMS forwarded was not available. Each SMS costs Nu. 0.40.
Meanwhile, general manager of B Mobile said it was difficult to define this as a crime at the moment. “Although such practice is not allowed but the individuals have right to send any message they like. Even if we catch the person we don’t know what penalty to impose.”
Official from the regulating authority, BICMA said the authority cannot hold anyone accountable, but if a person is found, then the service provider should discuss the matter together. “The penalty can be a misdemeanour or violation,” official said. “They could be charged under the specific provision of the Act.”
By Yangchen C Rinzi