It seemed like an innocuous missed call. And though I don’t generally call back numbers that I don’t recognize, I just did.
What came next was every bit a surprise. The person told me that I had won Rs 30 lakh in lottery. When I told him that I never buy lottery tickets, he replied that my number had been arbitrarily selected by Vodafone.
He then went on to ask me if I had a postpaid or prepaid connection. I told him if he was a Vodafone rep, then he should know the nature of my connection. But he went to say that he just needed to confirm the details.
Somehow the person’s tone didn’t seem to match that of typical salespersons so familiar to us – the receivers of pesky calls. It was too desi and heavily Punjabi accented Hindi. However irritating regular pesky callers may be, they do sound a lot more professional!
I became wary and decided to let out no information.
He wanted to know my name and number of family members. Also, that either I should give my address so that they deliver the money at home or bank details, so that it can be transferred online.
Convinced that it had to be fake call, I gave zero details and instead cross questioned him on details of the lottery selection process. Next was a complete give away – he said it was decided by the owner of Vodafone who lives in Canada! Being in the news business and knowing details about Vodafone, the fellow fell in a trap. He then told me to contact his head Surinder Singh at a number and decide a time for receiving the money.
I kept the phone down without giving any detail but searched the code. It struck me that +92 was Pakistan international calling code and further research revealed that apparently I narrowly missed being a victim of a huge scam involving Nigerians and Pakistanis.
Everyone out there, be extremely cautious. Don’t take any call from numbers starting with +9234. They are targeting Vodafone and Airtel users.