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How Do You 'Steal' 'Credit'?.

What all started as a broadcast message, which I ignored like everything else, has now turned into a headline news item.  Here is the 'under the rock summary' (you know, in case you have been living under one):  A broadcast message has been making rounds on BBM claiming that answering calls from certain phone numbers (with overseas area codes), would result in your credit being stolen.  The only reason I've paid this any attention is that it was reported by TVJ news, and corroborated by an acquaintance (who is still unsure, but had an experience which left him suspicious).

However I'm still not buying this story as it is told.  Something is amiss.  You can't 'steal' credit, when such credit exists only in the Digicel system.  When you make a call, you don't transfer credit to Digicel, or to anyone.  You simply get an allotment of minutes equal to the money you spent.  If someone calls and depletes your minutes, all they have accomplished is just that - they have depleted your minutes.  They have in no way enriched themselves in the process.  This is not a financial transaction of any sort.  It just doesn't add up.

Now let's assume for a minute that some clever person, has figured out a way profit in someway from depleting your minutes.  Many years ago, there were issues in the landline telephone system which 'crossed' telephone lines (how is that for a technical term) and allowed people to make calls which were charged to someone else's account. Let's say that someone has figured out a way to do the same thing on a mobile network- somewhat like making a 'collect call' (pun maybe intended).  In this scenario, they have not stolen any money, instead they have used your purchased minutes to make calls. As complex a scenario as this would be, it's still a more plausible explanation than is being offered right now.

If the foregoing is in fact the case, then the perpetrators must be local, since these calls would be limited to being initiated within the Digicel network.  As we established, 'credit' is not real money, so it's not like they could transfer it outside the country and use it.  While the numbers indicate calls from overseas area codes, they could be spoofed to apear that way.

Alternatively (and most likely), the purported scammers could be trying to get you to call them back (by promising prizes and money), thereby generating a call to a pay per call (or pay per minute) number - like those psychic hotlines or phone sex lines they advertise on late night TV.  The same could apply to getting text messages from them - they may be trying to prompt a response, which would earn them money when you text a premium number.  This is my favourite explanation as the simplest answer is usually the truth - and the truth is that people usually get scammed because they want something for nothing.  The only problem is that this explanation doesn't cover the cases of people, who report losing credit from just receiving the call.

If this is indeed a scam that initiates outbound calls, it smacks of an inside job, and should be easily traced to the source.  But I think that is an unlikely scenario.  Applying Occams razor, this is most likely a case of people falling for a scam, and calling back the numbers.  Having being suckered, and conned out of their credit, they are not likely to admit that they initiated calls to the numbers in question.
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