A piece of information is doing the rounds with the claim that answering calls from numbers beginning with the digits 140 would lead to bank accounts being hacked. A WhatsApp forward claims that it has been issued by the Mumbai Police.
Below is the forward:
The Logical Indian received several requests to verify the claims made in the message.
Answering calls from numbers that start with '140' will expose you to a bank scam.
The claim is false.
Origin Of Claim:
A promotional campaign by SonyLIV, an online streaming platform for a new web series, Undekhi led to panic among Mumbaikars. As part of this exercise, people received a recorded message about witnessing a murder.
This led to 4 events:
(1) Netizens claimed that these calls were made by a caller, who identified himself as Rishi. The caller can be heard saying that he had witnessed a murder, that was filmed on his phone, and that the murderers were after him. However, at the end of the call, it is revealed that it is a promotional call for SonyLIV's new crime show, Undekhi.
(2) Following this, Twitter and the Mumbai Police's helpline were flooded after panicked citizens reported receiving a phone call from a man who reported witnessing a murder. Some even uploaded recordings of the call from the number +911408800135.
(3) This was further propagated with the misinformation that answering calls from numbers beginning with the digits 140 would lead to bank accounts being hacked. It is noteworthy to mention that the SonyLIV promotional calls were made from numbers starting with digits '+140', which is a common code used by telemarketers.
Below is a list of such numbers that The Logical Indian received:
(4) Videoclips of policemen stating that if they received such a call it would lead to a zero account balance, also started doing the rounds.
Harish Baijal, DIG, Cyber Security Maharashtra Police, confirmed to BOOMLive that following the complaints against these calls, police mobile vans patrolling released these misleading announcements. He added that clarification has since been issued by the department on the viral clips.
Below is the clarification on the viral clips issued by The Maharashtra Cyber Police. The cyber police said that as long as one does not reveal their bank account details, OTP or credit card/debit card number, there is no harm.
Through their official Twitter handle, Mumbai Police called out SonyLIV for the problematic promotional activity.
"Any publicity creating panic amongst citizens and suggesting a threat to their security will be dealt with necessary severity," they wrote.
The Maharashtra Cyber Police also took to Twitter and stated that the channel has been 'instructed to cease this promotional activity immediately'.
Following the outrage, the streaming platform issued an apology on Twitter.
"This was a test activity which has gone out accidentally & our intention was not to cause any kind of discomfort or panic," they wrote.