Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

6 January 2013

Cameroon: Mobile Telephone - Lucky Games that 'Drain' Customers!

Pushy messages announcing financial gains have most often turned sour on fortune seekers.

Mobile telephones users in the country are increasingly bewildered with attractive messages from the operators or conmen on huge sums of money or valuable items up for grasps should they play one game or the other. "Even when you have not played, an incoming SMS message congratulates you on nearing the completion point of grabbing cash that can easily change one's hitherto unpleasant story," a curious mobile telephone subscriber said.

"Send 'Orange' to 931 and win 1 motorcycle everyday", "Bravo! Orange vient de te sélectionner pour gagner 2.000.000 FCFA. Fait vite ! Confirme ta participation en envoyant Ok au 987, » meaning (Congrats. You've been short-listed to win FCFA 2 million. Hurry up! Confirm your participation by sending a text message, OK to 987), "Change your story with an SMS. Win by draw 1 million frs per day, 10 million frs per month and 60 million frs jackpot. Just send go to 922 (200 frs per sms)," are among other spicy messages that no longer make news to most, if not all, mobile telephone users.

What however remains puzzling is the sincerity of the games. Most telephone users Cameroon Tribune contacted rubbished the move by telephone operators stating that it is a scam. "Each time I receive such messages, I quickly erase them from my phone because keeping them could be a source of temptation to waste money," a customer who chose to give her name only as Evelyn said. Another said he does not believe in lucky games and would not take the risk. "The SMS are just like PMUC where people play FCFA 200 hoping to win millions. It's difficult, if not impossible to win. Since they started sending the messages, I have never heard that someone somewhere won the millions being offered," Genesis M. said.

Others said they have tried their luck but came out losing all. "I took it for something serious. I tried it once and they were always telling me to continue, giving me new orientations to follow. At last, I ran out of airtime and that is how it ended. I lost the hard-earned airtime I had as well as the promised fortune. I was duped!" Shella Kenten, a victim of the lucky game said. All attempts to get information from the Telecommunications Regulatory Board on how the business is regulated and what the regulator is doing to protect the interests of customers in the interest-thirsty business ended in futility.

Meanwhile, the country's two telephone operators for now say there are impostors who have hijacked the network, passing for either MTN or Orange to feed fat on ignorant but money-hungry citizens. They say launching any game within their networks requires the putting in place of legal measures like contacting a bailiff who covers them as well as their clients. They say customers need to differentiate between what comes from the operators and impostors by maybe calling the operators to confirm before engaging in such games.

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