VAS fraudsters plumb new depths with Covid-19 scams in MENA

In Empello, News by Empello

Fraudsters are taking advantage of fears surrounding the current Coronavirus pandemic around the world. Specifically, in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), they are using sophisticated techniques to scam people. The most common way to prey on users is through fake adverts posted on fake social media pages passing off as offers from mobile network operators. This is similar to techniques used through the fake Helm social media pages as we have previously discussed on another blog post.

Screenshot 1: Fake message on Telegram offering 1000 GB to fight coronavirus.

The common theme running through these scams is: “To support you during the coronavirus pandemic, your mobile network operator is offering free internet, or a free gift. Enter your phone number to claim your gift”. In reality, when they enter their phone number they get subscribed to a Value Added Service (VAS). They are being deceived as they will not receive any gift for free. This creates confusion and frustrations to users who subscribe and end up paying for a service they were misled into buying.

Screeshot 2: Fake Facebook page sending a link to win free money. However, it leads to a subscription games service on Omantel.

Screenshot 3: Fake Facebook page passing for Vodafone Egypt offering free gifts.

Empello’s FraudScan service detects such scams at their early stages of propagation in the different sources. So far, the coronavirus scam has been seen on Facebook, Telegram and Instant Messenger apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. A well-trained team of Arabic speaking compliance analysts, based in London, is on top of researching, monitoring and advising our clients on such issues. Our strong team of analysts combined with sophisticated technology makes FraudScan the most comprehensive solution available to fight advertising fraud in the VAS industry.

Screenshot 4: Fake Facebook page passing for Moroccan telecoms, offering free top ups until the end of the lockdown.

Advertising fraud is just as dangerous as auto-subscription fraud. FraudScan deals with advertising fraud. FraudStop blocks auto-subscription fraud. OTP flows tackle neither problem.

All our staff are currently working from home following the UK Government advice. During this current global crisis, Empello is still serving its clients through continuous FraudScan monitoring in more than 30 countries.

Screenshot 5: The fake pages include real data of total number of Coronavirus cases around the world to show credibility.

More about FraudScan and FraudStop

FraudScan provides comprehensive detection of fraudulent advertising campaigns. Delivered by a powerful combination of in-depth analyst research and automated monitoring tools, we find problematic advertising in Google, Facebook, Affiliate Networks and many other Social and Ad Network campaigns.

FraudStop delivers powerful and accurate fraud blocking, giving you confidence that mobile payments transactions are from genuine consumers. We combine bespoke technology and best-in-class campaign data, to provide the fullest defence possible against fraudulent payments and subscriptions.