An age-old car lottery scam is once again making rounds across the country with scammers using names of brands like Tapal Tea, Lipton, and Head & Shoulders, to fool citizens into losing their money in exchange for a brand-new car.
Scammers are sending convincing-looking letters via courier with a message stating that they had won a car. The message then instructs the user to call on a mobile number where the individual on the receiving end explains how to claim their brand-new car. This is, of course, a ruse to dupe users and steal their hard-earned money.
From what we’ve seen in these letters so far, scammers use ‘Shakespearean English’ in crafting congratulatory messages for their victims. These messages are identical and read: “Respected Sir, You win a SUZUKI ALTO CAR Through with Lucky Draw. Many Congratulate to you and your Whole Family from Our Company”.
Scammers have used similar tactics in the past to trick users into providing financial information such as bank account numbers and other personal information. This is one of many methods that hackers use to deceive citizens in Pakistan.
One unlucky citizen encountered a prize promotion at Emporium Mall (Lahore) and filled out a coupon for a lucky draw. Months later, he received a phone call from a guy who congratulated him on winning a car. The citizen was later asked to pay Rs. 19,000 in insurance on car delivery via Easypaisa. He wired the funds and never heard from the guy again.
While some of these prize promotions may be genuine, it is highly likely that someone behind company lines is involved in facilitating these fake car lotteries. It is possible that they leaked the private data of lottery entrants which allows scammers to orchestrate a rip-off where innocent customers lose their money.
Here are a few ways to spot such con artists:
- Any message mentioning financial gain should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Messages from an unknown number should be regarded as a red flag.
Smartphone users develop a certain level of trust when they interact with company promotions, and it could take ages for that trust to be rebuilt as a consequence of the failure to maintain the integrity of its records/sensitive information of customers, even if this data is shared for aforesaid reasons.
We reached out to Tapal Tea for comment but were unable to get a response by the time of filing this story.
PTA, Other Law Enforcement Agencies Sleeping?
The resurgence of fake lottery scams this year shows that sensitive data continues to be easily compromised while the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) does little to counter it.
Scammers are such fearless that they communicate via mobile phone numbers and receive funds in EasyPaisa / JazzCash accounts, leaving a very clear trace for law enforcement agencies to act. But clearly, PTA and other LEAs are living happily with no action while the public is being looted by the scammers.
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