Theft on my mobile

I got a message from a cell number informing me that I had won a lottery of TZS 50M. I was also told that I should send a certain message to a particular number. I was quite excited and proceeded to do as instructed. I then got another message, asking me to reload my phone with TZS 100,000 as my contribution towards my award. I therefore sent another message to the same number. It turned out that the two messages I sent were for the transfer of credit, and I lost quite a bit of money. The phone number I transferred credit to is now constantly switched off. What should I do? Can the mobile company replace the credit, because it was their network that caused this incident?
9 April 2012

There is a saying that says there is no free lunch. There is always a catch somewhere, and you seem to have been caught in this one. This is a sham that is spreading fast in the marketplace. To put it simply, your money has been stolen by a professional who is using your mobile operator’s network to steal.

Stealing is a criminal offence, and we suggest you report this incident to the police. It is unlikely to bring your money back but it will, at the very least, open a police file that you can refer to at any time.

As for the replacement of your money, no mobile operator will agree. To do so would open a can of worms. The operator will also argue that you were entirely reckless in reloading credit, and transferring it for the second time, expecting to get TZS 50M. How can you win a lottery if you have not bought a ticket? It beats common sense for a lottery to ask for a contribution towards the prize. These are the questions that will be put to you, if you decide to take your mobile operator to task. We recommend you address these questions with your attorneys before instituting any suit against the mobile operator.