Amidst COVID19 outbreak government has requested service sector including telecommunication service providers to voice and data offers during this global crisis. In response to that request all operators had agreed to have a mechanism to provide emergency credit and extra talk time for prepaid customers who may face difficulty in purchasing top-ups due to curfew situation. We also noticed few operators promoting range of data offers.
In this backdrop a WhatsApp forward message with the claim “100 GB Free internet offer” was circulating with the narration given below:
“To counter the Corona virus 🦠 we offer you 100GB Free Internet Data to Stay Safe at Home. Enjoy the Free Internet Now.
Click Below to Activate 🌐 👉 https://Internet.Offers247.site “
Free 3GB Internet Data Per Day.”
We also noticed that a number of similar claims had been shared by many Facebook users in Sinhala and Tamil also had shared similar content.
Below is a post claiming UNP government giving 100 GB Internet & Rs.500 Talktime
A Facebook user called Anhar Cader shared the above post translated to English as “UNP government is giving 100GB internet and Rs.500 Talk time. Share this post with minimum of 3 groups and check your balance after 3 minutes. This is true news this was published in shakhy news. Ranil win” this was published on 29th of March (29.03.2020) .
The same content was shared claiming that Puttalam Urban Council was offering 100GB internet and Rs.500 Talk time as below.
We found another post saying that one could get 50GB free data for 6 months and this offer was given by Facebook control center. After sharing this news with your friends and click on the link to activate.
Likewise, we found more post with claims of free internet data with some changes and in most of these posts a website URL was included
Factcrescendo Sri Lanka investigated these viral posts and found all of these claims to fake.
First, we verified the below numbers combinations from each of the claimed network provider.
From our investigation we found this all above combinations are not valid and we were getting an error message saying this was invalid code from each of the network provider.
We did google search the word shakhy news, which was referred as the source in certain messages, to check is there any mention about the above claims. From our research we found this claim to be false too.
Next, we checked all the links that provided by publisher. Only quarantined website was live whereas all the other links were either defunct or leading to malicious websites.
We checked the active website and found they are using fake reviews and user comments as below to get more user engagement to their website.
In our investigation we found they were using click-bait means to mislead the users to share their website link by giving false assurance of free data offers by completing two easy steps.
The message read as “First, complete a quick sponsor activity – this helps pay for your free GB’s, and only takes a few minutes! Second, get 10 referrals to click on your link. As soon as these steps are completed, your reward will be unlocked!” We tried the combination and as with the above claims there was no truth in this statement either.
However, we did more investigation on free data offers as there had been a directive from TRCSL to provide data and voice facilities especially to prepaid customer base during COVID19 curfew period. We noticed that few network providers in Sri Lanka were offering free data and talk time for prepaid customers during this emergency time.
Therefore, from our investigation it is evident that while there are indeed free data offers given by telecommunication service providers the messages with “100 GB Internet & Rs.500 Talktime” with redirect to bogus and malicious websites were totally fake.
Title:Fake Messages with 100 GB Free Internet Data & Rs.500 Talk time Claim: Whatsapp messages claiming free data and talk timeFact Check By: Nelson Mani