Philippines Mobile Phones and SMS (Text Message) Scams

The Philippines is sometimes called the texting capital of the world and from what I’ve seen it’s true.  People in the Philippines, and Filipinos in general, seem to text non-stop.  In the US, it’s most common for people to have contract based plans with cell phone carriers and those plans usually have plenty of, if not unlimited, voice minutes.  Before coming to Asia, I can count the number of times I sent a text message on two hands and those were because someone texted me first.  Since then I’ve sent thousands, sometimes upwards of 200 per day.  Texting is the preferred method of communication in the Philippines, and other parts of Asia I’ve been to, mostly because it’s cheaper than voice calling.

Load na Dito!

Like I said, in the US most people have contract based plans.  Now, texting is catching on and people have the option to get unlimited texting packages added to their monthly bill.  In the Philippines, the majority of people don’t have contract plans; they use pre-paid instead.  If you’ve never heard of that, pre-paid is when you pay the carrier, either by purchasing a card with a set value, through an ATM, Internet banking, or even through distributors / resellers that can transfer value to your phone.  In the Philippines, this value is referred to as “load”.  That’s why when you look at photos of the Philippines you’ll often see signs that say “Load na Dito!”  It means “Load Available Here!”.  You can go to those stores and have value added to your prepaid SIM.  That’s another thing.  Phones in the Philippines are all based on GSM / SIM cards.  There’s no CDMA like Verizon and Sprint use in the US.  At least, not that I’m aware of.

Another way to have value added to your pre-paid SIM is by transfer from a friend or family member.  Well, it doesn’t have to be a friend or family member.  Anyone can transfer value to your SIM and it only carries a 1 PHP fee, to be paid by the sender.  This is where the scam comes in.

Now, I want to say that only an idiot would fall for these scams, but the fact that it’s an ongoing problem shows that people do in fact fall for them and fairly regularly.  The exact wording of the scams vary, but it usually goes along the lines of a ‘friend’ loses their phone and gets a new one, but needs you to send them ‘load’ until they can get their own and pay you back.  Sometimes they add a name to the text message, so that in the event the recipient does know someone by that name, they’ll be more likely to follow through and send a transfer.

I’ve probably received 20 or 30 messages like this in the past 4 months.  I deleted most of them, but here are some recent samples:

Example of a phone scam in the Philippines.

Example of a phone scam in the Philippines.

Example of a phone scam in the Philippines.

If you ever happen to visit the Philippines and you have a GSM phone, it’s easy to get a prepaid SIM to use while you’re in the country.  Just be aware that you’ll likely find yourself receiving messages like this and you shouldn’t fall for it.  Of course, it’s more obvious if you’re just a tourist because who else would you know here that would ask you for load?

26 thoughts on “Philippines Mobile Phones and SMS (Text Message) Scams

  1. Malou

    Sun Give-a-Load Text Scam

    Recently received texts that read:

    SUN ADVISORY

    You are eligible for 50% credit limit increase.

    To avail

    Txt 50 [sun cell #] send to 2292.

    I received texts from the following nos.: 09423608770, 09423608825, 09423608793, 09423608791.

    Actually sending the text to 2292 would pass P50 load to the given Sun cell no. charged to the bill of the sender.

  2. Kenzaki

    I received a similar text from 09174629304..

    grabe makakuha lang ng load…nasa abroad daw sya nice..they give our humble ofw’s and immigrants a bad name.

  3. Klariza Den

    the following are mobile numbers i have noted. all have sent me messages, and i’m sure many others, with lures of cash winnings or items and some are pretending to be somebody i know asking for cellphone loads:

    09159333842
    09358615684
    09165501526
    09264759934
    09277070460
    09177554138
    09174629304

  4. PASALOAD TEXT SCAM:

    Scammer Numbers: 09239353159 / 09323561379

    “SunCellular:
    You're the one Selected Postpaid Plan Given 50% Discount Billing, to get your 50% Discount Billing just forward 17-digits secret code to 2292. You will receive 17-digits secret code on next message.

    50 09323561379 9999

  5. Anonymous:

    I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble with receiving unwanted promotional SMS. However, this is a personal blog where I post updates on topics of interest to myself and hopefully others.

    I am in no way associated with an telecommunications regulation authority in the Philippines, and even if I were, this isn't the proper channel to handle a dispute like this.

    What you should do is contact Smart and ask them if there's a way to block all incoming SMS to your phone from that number.

    Unfortunately, you didn't leave any information on how to contact you, so hopefully you'll check back and see this message.

  6. Anonymous:

    I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble with receiving unwanted promotional SMS. However, this is a personal blog where I post updates on topics of interest to myself and hopefully others.

    I am in no way associated with an telecommunications regulation authority in the Philippines, and even if I were, this isn't the proper channel to handle a dispute like this.

    What you should do is contact Smart and ask them if there's a way to block all incoming SMS to your phone from that number.

    Unfortunately, you didn't leave any information on how to contact you, so hopefully you'll check back and see this message.

  7. Anonymous

    Please HELP me STOP 2474 from sending text messages.
    Everyday they’re sending 4 senseless messages, which are automatically deducted on my Smart account.

    2 months ago, I saw an ad from StarWorld (one of the largest cable tv shows based in HongKong) in our country, featuring downloadable music, games, wallpapers thru SMS (text).
    So I subscribed to it given the credibility of StarWorld.
    Later did I know that I felt I’m duped, I was barraged with text messages daily without the said downloads at all.
    All I get are nothing but plain deductions on my load.

    I am not really fond of downloads thru text messages, except for this one, ‘cause I have such high regard and trust for StarWorld.

    I hope this will be STOPPED as this will continue on to dupe more people. It’s really unfair. Thank you so much for reading my letter and hopefully, looked into this matter.

  8. Anonymous

    Please HELP me STOP 2474 from sending text messages.
    Everyday they’re sending 4 senseless messages, which are automatically deducted on my Smart account.

    2 months ago, I saw an ad from StarWorld (one of the largest cable tv shows based in HongKong) in our country, featuring downloadable music, games, wallpapers thru SMS (text).
    So I subscribed to it given the credibility of StarWorld.
    Later did I know that I felt I’m duped, I was barraged with text messages daily without the said downloads at all.
    All I get are nothing but plain deductions on my load.

    I am not really fond of downloads thru text messages, except for this one, ‘cause I have such high regard and trust for StarWorld.

    I hope this will be STOPPED as this will continue on to dupe more people. It’s really unfair. Thank you so much for reading my letter and hopefully, looked into this matter.

  9. I've actually had a kid try to stick his hand inside my bag before. I grabbed him and pushed him away from me. Unfortunately, he didn't fall down, which would've been justice served. Your story reminds me of something my wife told me. A kid begged coins from one of her friends but the guy refused, so when he wasn't looking, the kid swiped the ice cream off of his ice cream cone. The guy didn't notice til he walked onto a bus and then he saw the kid smiling at him from outside, eating the ice cream out of his hand.

  10. I've actually had a kid try to stick his hand inside my bag before. I grabbed him and pushed him away from me. Unfortunately, he didn't fall down, which would've been justice served. Your story reminds me of something my wife told me. A kid begged coins from one of her friends but the guy refused, so when he wasn't looking, the kid swiped the ice cream off of his ice cream cone. The guy didn't notice til he walked onto a bus and then he saw the kid smiling at him from outside, eating the ice cream out of his hand.

  11. Maja

    At least you weren't harassed. My friends were harassed by a bunch of kids when they went to Mc Donald's who all but forcefully grabbed their drinks and sundaes. Then one time I gave an old lady spare coins, totalling to about 1 peso. She threw the coins back to me saying, “wala na mabibili ngayon sa piso! (there's nothing you can buy now for 1 pesos)”

  12. Maja

    At least you weren't harassed. My friends were harassed by a bunch of kids when they went to Mc Donald's who all but forcefully grabbed their drinks and sundaes. Then one time I gave an old lady spare coins, totalling to about 1 peso. She threw the coins back to me saying, “wala na mabibili ngayon sa piso! (there's nothing you can buy now for 1 pesos)”

  13. That one sounds pretty tricky. Some people will do anything to steal money huh? Sad. Yesterday my wife and I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts in Antipolo and some woman that looks stronger and healthier than I do was smiling at us through the window and holding out her hand. Then she tried to block me by holding out her hand when I exited the store.

  14. Maja

    There's also this text where some guy introduces himself as a government official telling you that you won something then you have to load a particular number to claim to prize. Scumbags!

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