Citizens' Issues
Mobile operators play host to Nigerian scamsters

Tata Teleservices ignores scamsters using its SMS services to offer bumper lotteries

Mobile phone users have, for a long time now, suffered the scourge of unsolicited calls/SMSs. Recently, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was interrupted during a debate in Parliament by one of these calls. But today, ingenious Nigerian scamsters have also started using SMSs to dupe gullible phone users through fraudulent bumper lotteries.

One Moneylife reader shared with us this experience. “I received an SMS from TD-demo account informing that I had won £50,000 in a lottery. I know this is a scam. Many of my friends have received such an SMS. After searching on the Internet, I found that many others have received similar messages from a TD account. TD is the operator code for Tata Teleservices, Delhi. I believe the Tata Tele account is being misused to send SMSs for scam activities. I have complained to Tata Teleservices on their website and also sent an email to the Cyber Cell of the Mumbai Police to take action against the account holder.”

As the SMS originates from the Tata Teleservices’ account, the operator would have a record that could help trace the culprits. A Tata Teleservices spokesperson advised that we send them the details so they could make inquiries.

The spokesperson described SMS marketing and spam as two different issues, saying, “SMS marketing is completely within the regulatory provisions set out by the authorities. Furthermore, if it is creating any trouble for any customer, it is the responsibility of each operator to protect its subscribers from unsolicited calls and SMSs under the DND (Do Not Disturb) provision.” However, the spokesperson did not say what measures Tata Teleservices was taking to stop the misuse of its services.

Only the other day, Mr Mukherjee was in the middle of a discussion in Parliament when he received a call on his mobile phone, with the caller offering him a loan. The minister was understandably irritated. The Indian government subsequently advised telecom operators to ban such unnecessary marketing calls and messages to mobile phones. The direction against unsolicited calls was issued through notices by the Supreme Court to companies such as Bharti Airtel, COAI and ICICI Bank and American Express.
 
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also imposed a financial disincentive on eight service providers for non-compliance under the Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulation, 2007. These companies are Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Spice, BPL, MTNL and Aircel.
 
But this hasn’t helped, yet, to curb the harassment suffered by mobile phone users due to unsolicited commercial communication. (This is the term the TRAI uses for unwanted calls/SMSs.) For, it seems that the mobile phone operators are more interested in earning revenues.

The Tata Teleservices spokesperson told Moneylife, “Indian telecom operators have received acclaim for reworking the costs of telecom to reach out to the masses, and for becoming a driver of economic growth. A farmer in a village, or a fisherman, is today happy to receive SMSs about crop prices and information on the weather. Any other form of disbursement of information to the public would have cost a 100 times more.” There is no doubt about the benefits of telecommunications. But that doesn’t allow operators to flood customers’ handsets with unwanted, unnecessary messages.

The writer is a subscriber of Tata Indicom for seven years and has also been a victim of such unwanted SMSs and calls. Complaints were made on numerous occasions to Tata Indicom’s customer care department, the nodal officer, the national services head, even managing director Anil Sardana. Each time the complaint was made, Tata Indicom called saying that an inquiry was initiated into the matter and that notices had been sent to the operators involved. The company made no mention about calls and messages originating from Tata Indicom numbers or having its tags. Then every time, the calls/SMSs resumed with a vengeance.

One proposal to curb the menace is to make mobile operators pay for each marketing call/SMS. Vir Sanghvi, editorial director of the Hindustan Times, wrote recently that the customer must be compensated for receiving these commercial calls/SMSs. He suggested a payment of Rs10 for each call/SMS to customers within the country and a minimum of Rs50 for each call/SMS on international roaming.

The Tata Teleservices spokesperson appreciated the sentiment. “SMS marketing has been there since the very inception of the industry. It is unsolicited spam that is the scourge. Being a Tata Group company, we are totally committed to help curb spam and we propose that commercial penalties be levied on operators for unsolicited spam.”

(For more information on unwanted SMS/calls read Call Stall http://www.moneylife.in/article/76/2735.html)

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COMMENTS

Manish Keswani

6 years ago

I just received the 'Lottery' SMS from TD-demo account. It is 1:00 AM. No one sends a message at this hour, not even spammers. But apparently this scam artist does.
To everyone who is defending TATA telecom - doesn't the account name TD-demo sound a bit suspecious? Doesn't it seem as if the operator has an account for testing bulk sms which is being misused? Just to set the record straight, I was the one who sent the complaint menitoned in this article and I am thankful to Sucheta for printing it.
I receive a lot of other spam sms (from valid bulk sms accounts and individual telephone numbers), but I do not complain about those because they are not part of any blatant scam. This type of "Lottery" winning message is a well-known scam, it is against the law and people involved in such scams have been arrested in the past.
Secondly, I complained about TATA because I believe its bulk sms account is being misused. I understand that the telecom operator cannot censor the messages, but if they don't have a system in place to mark sms sender accounts as abusers (spammers), then they should be held accountable for the misuse of their services. I called their call center but got tired of waiting in queue. I tried to register my complaint on their website (failed once because of buggy code, but succeeded after few days). I received an email that they have recorded my complaint and will get in touch with me, but I haven’t heard back from them since then.
I am more than willing to work with TATA Tele to find the source of this sms and file a criminal complaint the senders. I hope Moneylife has passed my contact details to the TATA Tele spokesperson.

REPLY

shadi katyal

In Reply to Manish Keswani 6 years ago

It is easy said than done. do you know how many messages are sent daily or per hour .
As for your receiving at odd hours is nothing new the one who do such work,also utilise other people.
Have you offered TATA your services?:
TATA sells service and cannot be censor as it is again against the Law to read private messages .

Manish Keswani

In Reply to shadi katyal 6 years ago

Your answer brings a smile to my face. Blocking spam messages is not against the law. And one doesn't need to read a message to block it. I am sure you are aware of spam filters on email services which block messages based on patterns and not by reading the individual emails.

I as a consumer, and moneylife magazine as a consumer discussion forum, are trying to improve the services of Indian companies by suggesting changes that would be in the interest of both the consumer and the service provider.

I assure you that there is no intent to blame or undermine the company just because it is Indian.

shadi katyal

In Reply to Manish Keswani 6 years ago

The article did blame TATA and thus this discussion. I dont think it has anything to do with Indian company and beside it is a Public company.
I asked in the last letter if Indian geniuses can come out with such filter let us go for it and get a patent as the whole world be happy with such services.
We have not objected for improvement of services but maybe cell phone industry can induce some young man to come up with such filter

Shadi Katyal

6 years ago

THIS MAGAZINE MUST CORRECT THE WAY OUR WRITING IS COMPLETELY WIPED OUT DUE TO INCORRECT SECURITY CODE.

It is true that most human beings are greedy more or less but we Indians to all Africans are well known for this factor.This is the reason that some Africans have come to India to loot or cheat us but it us who are penny wise and Pound foolish.
SMS might sound cheap but it is more time consuming than talking on the phone. since lot of people think it is very cheap they utilise it which is a good revenue for the carrier.There is no technical development to spam it.
India bursting with all these IT engineers should try to come up with such innovations.
There is no Free Lunch or buyer,inthis case sms receiver be aware

DHARMENDER HARITISH

6 years ago

v r not hear 2 comment on each other but v must c that no 1 should get such type of sms& emails . there is only & only one reason our greedy nature fix in the scams better to leave greedy nature and ignore the sms& emails. one must think without participating how u r selected 4 such prize & must use his presance of mind.

DHARMENDER HARITISH

6 years ago

i get at least 3to4 calls daily from vodafone itself to subscrib for this&that songs which disturb us that must b stop.

RNandakumar

6 years ago

If one receives such intimations one should not only refrain from giving these people any personal information like bank details etc as would be demanded by these people but also should forward such messages to the respective zonal cyper crime branches. And hope and wait that these would be acted upon.

REPLY

shadi katyal

In Reply to RNandakumar 6 years ago

I fully agree with you that best is to ignore but GREED gets better of us and we have known people who had lost their savings and everything by hope to become a millionaire overnight.
There is a good saying There is no free lunch.
There are so many variations of such scams that one wonders who is the bright one. Nigeria still gets about 12 Billions dollars by such scams and it may surprise you all that it iscl;led 419 same as Indian 420.
Such SCAMS are now originating from other parts of Africa and Europe, UK, Thailand and even Australia. These are sent as winners of some lottery and so buyer be ware is the motto. some of these are so soul touching with words that you wish to help them but fact remains these are nothing but Frauds to get your money. There is no Gold bowel at the end of such Rainbow.
I have just got one from Mrs. Kabila who claims to be his 2nd wife.

Shadi Katyal

6 years ago

Why is Tata being blamed for this.It is well known that Nigerians had been doing this for decades and at one time they were earning about $12 a year from USA and Europe.They are well aware of our greed factor and thus decided to utilise their ability to cheat Indians.
THE RULE OF THE THUMB IS BUYER OR IN THIS CASED RECIPIENT BE AWARE OF SUCH SCAMS.
We get such rewards and win of lottery from all over the world in our email and do we blame Yahoo,Gmail etc to be responsible?
TATA is a carrier and not a censor board.
I am sorry to see such articles against our own firms and it is very destructive thinking about any carrier.
We should write that how we should be aware of such scams. Teach people and donot shirk away from our own follies.

REPLY

Yogesh

In Reply to Shadi Katyal 6 years ago

Thanks for your comment. The point in case is not against any company. It is about the misuse of telecom infrastructure particularly of someone like a Tata group company.
You compared spam SMS to emails. Do I have to tell you that in the email you can at least mark that particular mail as spam and assure yourself that it will never hit your inbox again? Can we do the same with SMS?
You said Tata is carrier. I agree. However, here someone who is misusing the network is paying the carrier and the carrier is allowing all this just because they are beign paid and ignoring the harassment of its own subscribers, like me? And what about the pains, harassment of other subscribers, who gets such messages day and night? Thankfully, incoming SMS are free of cost in India, but think about such cases when our own countrymen goes abroad. There they are charged for all incoming calls and SMSes. The cost of one incoming SMS abroad is more than Rs35 per SMS, for your information, irrespective whether it has come from your near and dear ones or from a marketing company or scamsters.
We are trying to find out a solution for curbing unsolicited commercial communication and not maligning any company. If you still think that the article is destructive, please share with us your experiences with spam SMS and how to get rid of the menace. Regards -Yogesh

shadi katyal

In Reply to Yogesh 6 years ago

Before I go further I would like to know is TATA the only carrier who is guilty but of what. How is TATA or any carrier to know which subscriber is abusing the privileges.
As I have tried to explain that it is not TATA or any carrier job to censor the clients. If you are bothered as many others , you can complaint and switch to other carriers.
The point is that in this age of communication and cell phones people who are smart will abuse and use it. Like the email one can delete and pay no attention.
Since it boils down to charges the best is to tell the near and dear make a call and not use SMS. This SMS is an extra income for these carriers as people donot think much when sending such messages.We hae to learn to differentiate ourselves.
My letter was that TATA being a carrier was being blamed for no reason.
Does this not happen on other carriers.I dont think we can justify by censor.
regards

shadi katyal

In Reply to Yogesh 6 years ago

Dear Mr. Yogesh,
Tata or any other cell phone company is a carrier and not a censor Board and thus it is not their responsibility to stop or spam them. It is your as said Buyer Beware situation. How can a carrier discriminate and open itself to a suite. There are certain Laws of the Telecommunications which are to be observed.Are the other carriers not doing same why was Tata picked in this case.
True you can spam email but you still get it in spam box and it is up to you to read or just delete.
International traffic of SMS etc are negotiated between the nations involved and not arbitrary set by Tata or anyone.In some nations sms charges are both the sender and receiver.
The only way to stop is to ignore and since such messages are charged Rs.35 one can tell the loved ones that you will use SMS as no urgent or emergency messages are sent this way.
One must recognise that all these cell phone carriers are businesses and more you SMS more money they make.
I donot have any solution but to expect Censor from the carrier is not in the cards

yogesh

In Reply to shadi katyal 6 years ago

@Shadi Katyal....FYI...
T-mobile claiming right to censor text messages it disapproves of
by Simon Chester on September 23, 2010

T-mobile told a federal judge on Wednesday that it has the right to pick and choose which text messages are allowed to go out on its network.

T-mobile are currently being sued by EZ Texting — a provider of SMS short codes, eg those text “GRASS” to 420420 ads you see around — because T-mobile blocked EZ Texting from using the T-mobile network after a medical marijuana dispensary signed up for the service.

The case is notable, because it will ultimately decide whether mobile carriers are to fall under the same “must carry” obligations as wired carriers are.

T-mobile claim that they have the right to pre-approve every client on their network, in order “to protect the carrier and its customers from potentially illegal, fraudulent, or offensive marketing campaigns conducted on its network.”

They then claim that as EZ Texting failed to submit the dispensary for approval, T-mobile are within their rights to disconnect EZ Texting from their network. EZ Texting claim that the decision will destroy their business.

(http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2010/09/23/t-mobile-claiming-right-to-censor-text-messages-it-disapproves-of/)

jafar

6 years ago

Nigerian name is very sweet to mention in scam,but forgotten easily that indians are most scret scammers idoit get lost.im nt in support of scammer bt what reason shows hw nigerians use it to scam anyone in this trash story here

REPLY

RNandakumar

In Reply to jafar 6 years ago

Mr.Jaffar i have received many such intimations of winning a lottery on many currencies ( BUT MOSTLY DOLLARS AND POUNDS). I have relegiously forwarded these messages to the cyber crime section. But as there was no acknowledgement from them I am not aware of any action taken against these scamsters.

Sunil Date

In Reply to RNandakumar 6 years ago

I would like to know thw no of the cyber crime cell ? Thanks

shadi katyal

In Reply to jafar 6 years ago

It is well known around the Globe about Nigerian scams so why is Mr.Jafar being upset. Why such language if you are not Nigerian?
Thee was a 60 mints show on CBS and all the group who traveled to Nigeria were offered Nigerian Passport for a price.
There are many such letters everyday but as they say Recieve beware.

Real-estate sales fall 50%-60% in June quarter

The real-estate market is not focusing on end-user sales, but higher valuations and raising funds through the capital market, says an independent real estate researcher

Real-estate sales fell by 50%-60% in the quarter ended June, as the market turned speculative and developers held prices in the hope that they would improve. Real-estate brokers also expect prices to rise over the next six months.

“The situation in the real-estate market is speculative. Despite falling sales and an inventory pile-up, prices are continuously rising,” said Pankaj Kapoor, founder and managing director, Liases Foras, a real-estate rating and research company.

“It looks like the focus is not on the consumer, but on valuations and IPOs (initial public offerings). People are looking for signs of stability in the stock market. It’s nothing but hoping and that is what is holding the prices in the property market.” Mr Kapoor suggested that the market would not undergo a correction until the hopes of the industry were fulfilled.

In a recent survey of real-estate brokers conducted by ICICI Securities, 93% of the respondents said that prices had moved up during the past three months, and 75% said they had found an increase in inquiries in the affordable segment. According to the survey, Mumbai and the National Capital Region (NCR) had seen the maximum rise in inquiries.

In the NCR, multinational real estate and property service firm Knight Frank said that an increase in consumer confidence, together with availability of various affordable housing units was the key factor driving demand for housing. During the second quarter, the NCR residential market saw the introduction of a new ‘flexi-payment’ plan for buyers and the revival of ‘EMI on possession’ scheme. The flexi-payment plan is designed along the lines of the construction-linked plan and aims to ease the liquidity pressure on buyers, an improvement over previous schemes. Knight Frank, a commercial and residential property estate agency, believes that the two schemes along with reasonably priced home loan rates, could spur the demand for housing in the NCR.

Mr Kapoor maintained that developers alone could not be held responsible for lower sales. “I feel that investors and merchant bankers are not giving them (developers) a green signal, in that investors are not too keen to buy real-estate stocks. In the last two or three IPOs, the participation of retail consumers was a low 7%-8%. The majority were institutional investors. This is an indication that there are not many buyers for realty stocks at current prices and valuations.”

During the June quarter, the Moneylife Real Estate index inched up 1% to 3,790.33 points, while the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Realty index declined by 2% to 3,196.8 points. During this period, the BSE Sensex rose marginally from 17,527.8 points to 17,701 points.

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Weekly Market View: Small rally?

During the week that ended on 3rd September, the Indian stock markets closed marginally higher on strong global cues. With positive and supportive cues from Asian and European markets, the Indian market may witness a small rally over next week.

The market closed flat with a positive bias on the first trading day of the week on selling pressure despite strong global cues. It added marginal gains on Tuesday as trading was restricted to a narrow range. The benchmarks witnessed smart gains with the Sensex and the Nifty closing with gains of over 1.25% each on Wednesday. The upmove continued the next day but the market witnessed a bit of consolidation in the late trading session and was able to close in the green.

However, selling pressure on Friday dragged the indices into the red, despite support by its Asian and European peers.

For the week ended 3rd September, the benchmarks ended 1% higher, with the Sensex advancing 223.02 points and the Nifty adding 70.7 points.

The top Sensex gainers on a weekly basis were Bharti Airtel (up 7%), Tata Steel (up 6%), Reliance Infrastructure (R-Infra) (up 5%), Maruti Suzuki India and ICICI Bank (up 4% each). The top losers on the Sensex were BHEL, Hero Honda Motors, Reliance Industries (RIL) (down 3% each), TCS (down 2%) and State Bank of India (SBI) (down 1%).

The sectoral gainers during the week were BSE Realty index and BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) index (up 3% each) while BSE Oil & Gas index (down 1%) was the sole loser during the week under review.

Driven by robust manufacturing, the Indian economy grew by 8.8% in the first quarter of this fiscal, the fastest pace in around three years, despite partial withdrawal of economic stimulus packages.

The growth numbers prompted some industry groups to forecast that the economy would revert to high expansion mode of 9% in 2010-11, after two successive years of slowdown due to the impact of the global financial meltdown.

India's industrial activity continued to moderate in August after touching record high growth levels couple of quarters ago. The seasonally adjusted HSBC-Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - a headline index designed to measure the overall health of the manufacturing sector - recorded a score of 57.25 in August against 57.6 in July.

India's exports grew by 13.2% to $16.24 billion in July compared to the same period last fiscal, posting growth for the ninth month in a row. Imports, too, jumped by 34.3% to $29.17 billion in July compared to the same month last fiscal.

During the April-July period of this fiscal, exports posted a growth rate of 30% to $68.62 billion on year-on-year basis. Imports during the April-July period grew by 33.3% to $112.2 billion.

After declining for two consecutive weeks, food inflation inched up marginally to 10.86% for the week ended 21st August, as against 10.05% during the previous week, while it was 14.86% a year ago.

Overall inflation based on wholesale prices had declined to single-digits in July at 9.97%, after being in double-digits for five months.

Maintaining their bullish stance for the third month in a row, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) made a net investment of Rs11,685 crore ($2.5 billion) in Indian equities in August.

As per the data available with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), foreign institutional investors (FIIs) purchased shares worth Rs62,187.50 crore, while they offloaded equities worth Rs50,500.40 crore during August, resulting in a net investment of Rs11,687.50 crore.

With the August inflow, the total investment made by FIIs in the local stocks now stands at Rs60,447 crore ($13.1 billion) so far this year.

On the global front, US companies added more jobs than forecast in August, easing concern about the pace of the economic recovery in the world's largest economy. Private payrolls rose 67,000 after a revised 107,000 increase in July, Labor Department figures in Washington showed. The unemployment rate rose to 9.6% as more people looked for work.

The Bank of Japan expanded a bank-loan programme, enhancing up its monetary stimulus for the first time since March after the yen surged to a 15-year high and the government pressured the central bank to safeguard the recovery.

BOJ will boost the amount of funds in the facility by 10 trillion yen ($116 billion) to a total of 30 trillion yen, the bank said in a statement after an emergency meeting in Tokyo.

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COMMENTS

Nagarjuna

6 years ago

VERY USEFUL

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