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.
Got a very disturbing call from this number +91 140 880 0135 @MumbaiPolice...The gentleman said he has witnessed a murder. Has recorded it on his phone & now those people want to kill him. He hung up after that. He was crying & quavering while speaking. Please look into this.— smriti kiran (@smritikiran) July 10, 2020
(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.
What a ridiculous #promotional call trick by #Undekhi #SonyLIV Do U even realise what this can cause to a person if they miss out the last few words in panic. Get a better way to promote your series #webseries #advertisement #ScamAlert #murdercall #unethical #worldpremiereseries pic.twitter.com/8CzUhTkVti— Suvrata Bhati (@BhatiSuvrata) July 10, 2020
(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.
@MumbaiPolice @DGPMaharashtra— pranav (@sanepranav) July 10, 2020
I got this video from other social media channel. Wherein a police office can be seen telling not to receive any calls from number starting with 140. Pls validate and confirm its authenticity pic.twitter.com/ESb02gFR52
This video of a policeman announcing not to attend any calls from number 140, looking at the mask, the video seems to be during this pandemic period, can the people get clarification for the same?? Thank you 😊@CPMumbaiPolice @MumbaiPolice pic.twitter.com/ZldVJe2xFP— Nihar Sakpal (@SakpalNihar) July 10, 2020
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.
महाराष्ट्र सायबर तर्फे सर्व नागरिकांना असे आवाहन करण्यात येते की,— Maharashtra Cyber (@MahaCyber1) July 11, 2020
140 या अंकाने सुरुवात होणाऱ्या अनोळखी क्रमांका वरून आलेला फोन कॉल रिसीव केला तर आपल्या खात्यातील सर्व पैसे काढले जाऊन अकाउंट शून्य होते असे जे संदेश समाज माध्यमावर फिरत आहेत. त्या संदेशामध्ये (1/n)
There is a video clip doing the rounds on social media of a police constable telling people not to accept calls from numbers starting with +140.— Maharashtra Cyber (@MahaCyber1) July 10, 2020
We would like to clarify that numbers starting with +140 are telemarketing calls. (1/n)
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 era of 'any publicity is good publicity' is a passé. Any publicity creating panic amongst citizens and suggesting a threat to their security will be dealt with necessary severity. Hope the fake calls for promotions aren't bothering you any longer, Mumbaikars #SoNotDone— Mumbai Police (@MumbaiPolice) July 10, 2020
The Maharashtra Cyber Police also took to Twitter and stated that the channel has been 'instructed to cease this promotional activity immediately'.
We have instructed the channel to cease this promotional activity immediately. (2/n)— Maharashtra Cyber (@MahaCyber1) July 10, 2020
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.
If you have received a call for our show Undekhi & it has disturbed you we would like to sincerely apologise to you. This was a test activity which has gone out accidentally & our intention was not to cause any kind of discomfort or panic. We sincerely regret any inconvenience.— SonyLIV (@SonyLIV) July 10, 2020
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