Mindanao teacher offers tips to avoid text fraud

Jun. 14, 2007

ILIGAN CITY — To Sahraman Palawan, the registered mail could not have come at a better time. An elementary school teacher from Marawi City, Sahraman is also father and provider to a family of 13 children, with his wife a full-time homemaker. With times getting harder and luxuries becoming practically impossible, he could hardly believe his luck when he received the registered mail which came all the way from Metro Manila. Coming from Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART), the letter was informing him of his good fortune Sahraman was the grand prize winner of the SMART Buddy Pabonus at Papremyo, and his brand-new Chevrolet Spark was on its way to the SMART Wireless Center in Iligan City. From there, he and his family could pick up the car and drive it home to nearby Marawi City.

Salamat, Allah, (thanks to Allah) Sahraman could not help but mumble upon reading the letter. A car, a brand-new one at that, is often just a dream to most families in these parts of the Philippines. His meager salary as a teacher of Arabic studies at the Kampong Talao Elementary School in East Tugaya, Lanao del Sur, while enough to sustain a simple life for the entire family, is most certainly insufficient for a car. Now I can drive and take my wife and children to bigger and better cities like Iligan or Cagayan de Oro, says Sahraman.

Sahramans wife, Manis Biston, admits to being skeptical when she first read the letter for her husband. Madaming naloloko, (too many are fooled) Manis says of raffle promotions and other games that are accessed via mobile phones.

Too good to be true.

Given the steadily rising number of people that have fallen victim to scammers and other high-tech criminals, Manis had reason to be doubtful of the prize announcement. The affordability and accessibility of mobile communication, coupled with the availability of value-added services such as games and promos delivered straight to ones handset, have led to the increase in frauds and scams that are facilitated through the mobile phone. Compounding the sad situation is the susceptibility of people, given hard times, to fall for get-rich-quick schemes that are, more often than not, too good to even be half-true.

When I read the letter, I quickly remembered that I did register to join such a contest after seeing its TV commercial, adds Sahraman. This is how he was able to convince his wife that the prize he was told he has won could not be a hoax. I have joined other promos before this, and Ive learned that for one to be able to join, one has to register, not just top-up or add E-load. Since winning, Sahraman has been stressing to his family and friends that no matter how much you load, you will not stand a chance at winning if you dont follow the instructions and register.

Being fool-proof.

Sahraman also offers a few other tips that should help people detect fraud and avoid falling for mobile phone scams. With fraudsters getting more and more creative in coming up with scams — from text messages that offer a whole array of money-making schemes, to letters that announce the availability of a prize upon depositing of a significant amount of money onto a specific bank account Sahramans short but fool-proof advice is, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is. He also reminds people to read the small print carefully every time a letter arrives, no matter how official-looking it seems. One also has to look past the bold type and the enticing details of the letter or the text message, and carefully consider what the wording actually means. As a general rule, Sahraman reminds people to not send any money that they are not prepared to lose.

Great service, great rewards.

Simple joys, such as trips for his family to see nearby cities that are otherwise out of their reach, are just some of the benefits that Sahraman envisions he will enjoy from his prize. Thanks to SMART Buddy, I now have a car that could get me to work and back home to my family more quickly and safely now, he adds, noting the constant tension between the military and insurgents in the area.

Having Sahraman as one of our highly-satisfied 25 million subscribers not only solidifies our commitment to make wireless communication affordable and accessible to every Filipino in every corner of the country. It also re-affirms our promise of delivering great service complemented by even greater rewards, says Gladys Surposa, Regional Sales Manager for Mindanao.

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