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Fact Check: Here’s The Truth Behind Video Of Police Warning Against Picking Up Calls From Numbers Starting With 140

Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

A video featuring a series of clips edited together apparently showing policemen making public service announcements, warning people against picking up calls from numbers starting with 140 is being circulated on WhatsApp. In one of the clips, the policeman is even heard cautioning people that receiving such calls might drain recipients’ bank accounts, or hack their mobile phones. Newschecker found that the video has been shared in a false context.

Newschecker received the video multiple times on our WhatsApp tipline (+91-9999499044) requesting to be fact checked.

Warning Against Picking Up Calls From Numbers Starting With 140

The video has started to gain traction on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Also Read: Here’s What Experts Have To Say About The ‘Google Pay Scam’ That Is Going Viral On Social Media

Fact Check/Verification

A keyword search for “140,” “phone number,” “police announcement” & “fraud” did not yield any new reports suggesting that such an incident of bank fraud has taken place, or that the police have warned against the same.

Old Video Revived

Following this, we looked up “phone calls,” “starting” & “140” on Facebook led us to multiple posts from 2020 carrying similar videos on men dressed in police uniform making public announcements against picking up calls from numbers beginning with “140.”  Such posts can be seen here, here and here.

Screengrabs from Facebook

We then searched for “140 phone number police announcement” on Google, and set the time frame of the same from July 2020 to December 2020. This threw up a tweet by  Maharashtra Cyber, a nodal agency for cyber security and cybercrime investigation in the state, dated July 10, 2020, clarifying about the viral video.

It stated, “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. We would like to clarify that numbers starting with +140 are telemarketing calls. In any case, and in ALL cases, People should NOT share their confidential banking or personal details or OTP with such callers.”

Screengrab from tweet by @MahaCyber1

Notably, in July 2020 OTT platform SonyLIV had made several cold calls to people where a person is heard saying that they have witnessed a murder and need help. This was done as a part of a promotional strategy for its series Undekhi.

However, the campaign did not go as planned, and soon enough Mumbai Police’s main control room started getting calls from people informing about strange calls from numbers starting with 140 or 40.

The police were then quick to point out SonyLIV’s promotional campaign. In a tweet, dated July 10, 2020, Maharashtra Cyber said, “It has come to our attention that a Sony Liv, a tv channel has used a tactic for the promotion of its new show by calling people and playing a disturbing voice recording. If you receive any such call, please do not panic and create rumours.We have instructed the channel to cease this promotional activity immediately.(sic) “

Screengrab from tweet by @MahaCyber1

SonyLIV also issued an apology and tweeted “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.”

Screengrab from tweet by @SonyLIV

It is likely that this promotional call by SonyLIV was blown out of proportion because of online panic, and different narratives -including bank fraud- was spun around it, leading to a widespread confusion.

Conclusion

Old video clips showing policemen warning people against picking up calls from numbers starting with 140 in response to a promotional stunt by SonyLIV have been revived with false claims.

Result: False

Sources

Tweet By Maharashtra Cyber, Dated July 10, 2020
Tweet By SonyLIV, Dated July 10, 2020

(The article was originally published in Newschecker Tamil by Ramkumar Kaliamurthy.)


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Authors

Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

Vasudha Beri
Vasudha Beri
Vasudha noticed the growing problem of mis/disinformation online after studying New Media at ACJ in Chennai and became interested in separating facts from fiction. She is interested in learning how global issues affect individuals on a micro level. Before joining Newschecker’s English team, she was working with Latestly.

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