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Over 10,000 received bogus text messages

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Over 10,000 people received the Somali text messages last week that claimed they would receive a car or cash from the Central Bank of T&T. Members of the public said they had received several text messages over their cellphones saying they had won $50,000 and telling them to visit the Central Bank for further information and to receive the money. Scores of people went to the Central Bank, Port-of-Spain, only to be turned away, disappointed. 


Some of the messages said: “Winner call now free and receive your new car or it will be cancelled or transferred to another winner”; “Urgent appeal, get your car from the Director of Telemarketing of T&T” and “Central Bank of T&T. You are invited to receive your check of $50,000. Call and learn about the place of receipt.” The phone numbers are ten digits and have various area codes. Many people visited the bank at Independence Square and St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, hoping the messages were genuine.


Telecommunications Services of T&T manager, media relations and corporate communications Graham Suite yesterday again urged members of the public to be wary and cautious of strangers sending text messages to their phones. “People have to be vigilant about offers and calls and the messages they receive,” he said. Suite said the messages came from Somalia and the United Kingdom. “Based on the investigations, the messages were international and went through designated centres which are known. Our investigations traced the messages passing through message centres in Somalia and more recently from the United Kingdom.” 

But Suite said the messages were changing their point of origin. “We can’t tell who are the specific persons involved, just the trending of the message and the content were similar. That was how we recognised the patterns on how it originated and we blocked them from getting to citizens,” he said. Suite said TSTT continued to advise members of the public to use their best judgment. “Once you get a message like that and you didn’t participate in any promotion and did not register, those are red flags. It is not legitimate. As appealing as it sounds, anything like that rarely happens,” he said. He said TSTT would continue to monitor the messages. 


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