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I would like to share an incident which happened just last week.
Saturday 11 April. It was off and I was home. At 3.20PM, I received a phone call on my mobile. The CLI showed the call was coming from State Bank of Pakistan. I may mention that I do not have any number of State Bank of Pakistan saved on my phone. However, the number displayed on the screen said ‘State Bank of Pakistan’; the number below was +92 306 8134359. I also noticed that it was a ‘Viber Audio’ call. I picked up the phone. The person on the other end introduced himself as Farhan. He said he was calling from State Bank of Pakistan. We had this conversation.
Farhan SBP – The purpose of this call is to ascertain if you have received new ATM card with chip from your bank.
Me – Ok
Farhan SBP – You have an account in Faysal Bank. Has the bank provided you with the new chip card?
Me – Yes, the bank has done it.
Farhan SBP – Do you have other account also?
Me – Yes
Farhan SBP – Did they also provide new chip card?
Me – Yes
Farhan SBP – In which banks do you have other accounts?
Me – I don’t need to tell you
Farhan SBP – It is very important that you give me this information. Otherwise your accounts may be blocked
Me – If you have data, you should know it already. I would not tell you.
Farhan SBP – Sir, you are not getting it right. It is very important that you tell me.
Me – Farhan! Why is the State Bank calling on Viber Audio?
Farhan SBP – This is an international call
Me – Why is State Bank making international call?
Farhan SBP – Sir, because we are calling people wherever they are
Me – Why is a local mobile number displayed on the screen?
Farhan SBP – Sir, we are using this number to call.
Me – Thank you. I don’t think you have anything to do with State Bank.
Farhan called again immediately and insisted on getting the bank accounts information. I was a little harsh this time and asked him to stop making such scam calls. I again disconnected.
At 3:26PM I got a call from Faysal Bank official helpline number 021-111060606.
The caller identified himself as Bilal. Following exchange occurred.
Bilal FB – Sir, this call is for confirmation of bank account holders. The bank has found that some accounts are held by fake owners. State Bank has therefore instructed that all account holder must be contacted, and their authenticity should be confirmed.
Me – OK
Bilal FB – Please confirm that you are Asrar Ahmed Qureshi
Me – I am
Bilal FB – Please confirm that this is your CNIC (he repeated my CNIC exactly)
Me – Yes
Bilal FB – Please confirm that this is your mobile number (he repeated my mobile number)
Me – (getting suspicious by now) You are already calling on this number. Why are you asking?
Bilal FB – Yes, we know. But we are confirming on the helpline for recording.
The voices on both ends were breaking and not clear and I smelled a rat; I disconnected.
Bilal FB called again immediately.
Bilal FB – Sir, I could not hear you clearly. Please change your position so that the voice becomes clearer.
Me – I don’t think you are really calling from Faysal Bank
Bilal FB – Sir, you can see the number of on your screen. It is Faysal Bank official number. This is an official call and it is important. Please confirm your email.
Me – I am not getting into this conversation anymore
Bilal FB called a third time and he was a little harsh this time.
Bilal FB – Sir, you have to cooperate otherwise we shall block your account.
Me – The bank already has my information. They should see from their record.
Bilal FB – Sir, you are not cooperating with the bank. Well, the bank has sent you an OTP (One Time Pin). Did you receive it?
Me – I did not check
Bilal FB – Please check
I checked. I had received OTP through SMS from official Faysal Bank number (8756). I had not requested for OTP because I did not make any transaction on that day.
Me – Yes, I have received.
Bilal FB – Sir, please tell me the OTP
Me – No. I will not tell you. the bank never calls and asks for such information. You must be fraud.
Bilal FB – No sir, you can see I am calling from official number and you must cooperate.
Me – I am not. And do not try to call me again.
I disconnected the call.
Immediately after, at 3:38 PM, I got another call. The number on screen was my own mobile number. Imagine, my number calling my same number. I picked up the phone.
The person on the other end said he was calling from PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority), Islamabad.
PTA – Sir, we have received complaint from Faysal Bank that you are not cooperating with them.
Me – Who are you?
PTA – I am calling from PTA, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority. Do you know?
Me – Yes, I know PTA. What has PTA to do with Faysal Bank?
PTA – We are helping them to ensure that they get confirmation of accounts
Me – This is nonsense. You guys are all part of some scam
PTA – You cannot say that. This is government agency and we can suspend your number.
Me – go ahead and try to do it. I shall see how you dare do it.
Then I called Farhan SBP on mobile. He picked up promptly and said “Farhan from State Bank of Pakistan speaking”
Me – Farhan! Are you really from State Bank?
Farhan SBP – Yes I am
Me – Do you have the slightest fear of Allah in your mind or heart? The world is dying of corona and you are still doing fraud.
Farhan – No sir, we are not doing any such thing.
Then I called Faysal Bank helpline. I reported the entire incident. I asked the lady to see if any transaction had occurred in my account. She checked and said no transaction was done. I put up my complaint and got my card blocked for some time to prevent any further attempt.
Next, I made account at Pakistan Citizen Portal and submitted a complaint there. Let us see when they take it up.
What do we make out of this entire thing?
Of course, it is a gang activity. People from PTA and/or Faysal Bank may be involved. SBP is added to increase authenticity. It is surprising that they could use the official helpline of Faysal Bank. It is more likely that they hacked the Faysal Bank data. And they also had the means to send me OTP from official FB number (8756) for sending SMS messages. I also noticed that I had received three OTPs on March 30 also. Since I was not doing any transaction, I did not even notice.
Dear All, While the country is struggling to get control on Corona Virus, and while there are lots of voices urging to ask forgiveness of Allah, there are people who are still trying to cheat others. This is happening right in the face of imminent death.
Please take utmost care and be vigilant about such elements and their activities.