I hate it when the doorbell and telephone ring at the same time. Occasionally my children demand attention at that very moment as well, but thankfully, this time it was just the doorbell and the cell-phone. As soon I got to the phone after checking the door, I was in for a surprise.
“Hi Ma’am!” said a bright voice.
“Yes?” I replied.
“This is Samir from the Etisalat office. We would like to inform you that you have just won AED 200,000 in a lucky draw. Your sim card is the lucky winner out of hundreds of thousands of entries,” he said enthusiastically.
Etisalat, as most people know is the telecommunications company in the UAE and like most phone companies, they also keep having the odd lucky draw. But being the typically street-smart Pakistani that I am, I replied exasperatedly, “Yeah, so?”
The man took this reaction of mine like a personal insult and said, in an almost desperate tone, “Ma’am, you’ve just won 200,000 Dirhams! You can collect the money at the nearest Etisalat office if you just take down your gift number. Now can I have your good name please?”
“Tell me the location of the office first, then I’ll tell you my name,” I said half-interested, in spite of myself. He gave me a number that he insisted should be the same as the one written in fine-print on my sim-card, because apparently, my sim was ‘the lucky winner’.
“Switch off your phone, take your sim out and match the number written on it with the number I have given you. If they are the same, you are lucky one. Then call me back,” he advised.
It all sounded quite pretty, save for the fact that ‘Samir from Etisalat’ was calling from his personal cell-phone. Since when did companies start telling their staff to make corporate from their own cell-phones? Plainly out of curiosity, I switched off my phone and matched the number the man had given me with the one on my sim. The number he had given me was incomplete, but the digits that he had supplied tallied with mine. Sure that this was a scam, I dialled the number of the actual Etisalat office.
When I was finally connected to a customer-service representative, I said, “I received a call from someone claiming to be an Etisalat employee. Are you guys having some kind of a lucky draw for 200,000 Dirhams?” The man on the other end, presumably an Arab (judging by th accent – lahja) seemed quite appalled at the idea of handing over 200,000 Dirhams to someone for no good reason. He confirmed my suspicion that it was indeed a scam and promised to take action against the person who had tried to dupe me, after taking down his number.
Just goes to show you have people trying to fool others in practically every country, but I do hope action will be taken. Imagine, if Etisalat actually called the guy:
Etisalat: Hello, This is So-n-so from Etisalat
Trickster: That’s right. This is Samir from Etisalat.
E: NO I’m from Etisalat.
T: No I’m from Etisalat! In fact we have a promotion, just check your sim card…. Err.. you mean you’re from Etisalat – the real one?
E: Until further notice your number has been blocked due to undesirable activity. Thank you. Good bye.
ME: evil grin + dark laugh.
Conclusion: Fun as it may sound, the idea that you won 200,000 dirhams is a big huge scam. You’re getting nothing, nada, zilch. Except perhaps a dirty look from your spouse who says you’ve been wasting too much time exploring your phone and sim and searching the net for that one confirmation that you are the proud owner of some cool, hard cash. So please remember: THIS IS A SCAM!