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Text message asking users to send ‘W’ to 50017 for cash is scam

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Claim: a mobile based message making the rounds claims that  FG has begun  cash transfer to 200,000 Nigerians. 

This claim is false. The text message is not from FG or MTN but directly related to Mblog, a mobile based chat platform.

Fll Text 

In August this year, the Federal Government announced its intentions  to commence cash payments to 200,000 Nigerians. The initiative targeted urban poor senior citizens that do not have access to regular income and are impacted by COVID-19.

However, not more than 2 months after this initiative, a text message making rounds on people’s mobile phones claims that the federal government will yet again transfer cash to 200,000 Nigerians. The message reads: 

“KINS# FG begins cash transfer to 200,000 Nigerians, from Lagos and Imo and to other 36 States poor Nigeria. if u have not received, Reply W to 50017 to ask how.”

While it is no news that the government has been engaged in similar acts of service, fraudsters have also capitalized on this means to capitalize on people’s vulnerability. 

Verification

First, Dubawa ran an analysis on sources of  the text message and  findings show that ‘W’  ‘50017’  is the message contact for joining a certain mobile-based text messaging platform called “Mblog”. The Mblog is developed by SICS in collaboration with Ericsson and serves only MTN users. 

By sending ‘W’ to 50017, users are automatically signed up for this chat platform and are thereafter given further instructions to choose a username.  While users will further receive messages for the cash prize, subsequent messages that will follow after continuing will require them to invite friends to the chat platform to get a free trial. 

The message thread for ‘W’ 50017 pledging cash transfers

When DUBAWA spoke with an MTN representative, Ms Elizabeth, she acknowledged the existence of the Mblog but admitted she is unaware of such dealings and would advise the public to stay off it. 

“MTN users can join Mblog but about the cash transfers and texting ‘W’ to 50017 for a cash transfer I am unaware of and will advise the public to stay off it.” Elizabeth said. 

She added that “if MTN was involved in such a process, a clearer and more detailed message would have been communicated.”

Even at that, the subsequent messages that followed clearly indicated the Mblog and offered users an alternative way to subscribe. 

Subsequent message attributed to Mblog

Conclusion 

While the federal government may have given cash to some persons in the past, the message making the rounds currently is false and has nothing to do with the Federal Government. 

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