, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 1 – The government on Wednesday moved fast to re-assure Kenyans to ignore hoax messages doing the rounds warning mobile users against receiving calls from unknown or certain listed numbers.
The rumour that a call from several "killer numbers" causes death has seen mobile phone users check all numbers before answering calls.
The specific information, being relayed through text messages and e-mail, asks subscribers not to pick calls from the following numbers: 7888308001, 9316048121, 9876266211, 9888854137, and 9876715587. It says the numbers "come in red and if received, one would get brain haemorrhage due to high frequency."
The Communication Commission of Kenya said its investigation had established the warnings were false, and had been generated by unscrupulous people bent on causing fear and despondency among members of the public.
"The attention of the Commission has been drawn to SMS and email messages that are doing the rounds in the country warning mobile users against receiving calls from unknown or certain listed numbers. The messages further allege that receipts of calls from either the unknown or listed numbers would cause brain haemorrhage due to high frequency."
The CCK stated: "Upon analysis of the messages, the Commission has established the warnings are a hoax generated by unscrupulous people bent on causing fear and despondency among members of the public. The listed numbers are non-existent as mobile, fixed or international calls," the regulator said in a statement.
"In addition, the alleged haemorrhage due to high frequency has no technical basis whatsoever. The Commission therefore, wishes to urge the public to ignore these messages and go about their business without any fear. The public is also advised to avoid fuelling the fear by transmitting the said messages to friends and family members either through SMS or email forwarding. "
The Commission said it is already in contact with law enforcement agencies to ensure that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to book.
"We further wish to warn the originators of these messages that they are in breach of the law (i.e. Section 29 of the Kenya Communications Act, 1998)."
On its part one of Kenya\’s leading telecoms operator Safaricom reassured its subscribers in the wake of the widespread rumours asking them not to receive calls from certain numbers.
Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph said: "This is a hoax and not technically possible. It is a popular urban myth that has been perpetuated, especially in some Asian markets. We wish to reassure our customers and all users of mobile phones in the Kenyan market to ignore these rumours and continue enjoying our services. It is unfortunate that some people are perpetuating this rumour, causing fear and stopping many from the convenience of enjoying our services."
"We provide our services on frequencies that are safe for humans. As for colour displays, these are dependent on handset design. Colour displays cannot be altered, unless special software is installed onto the device, the most popular one being Colour SMS software, a freeware readily available off the internet," Mr Joseph added.
Internet searches show that a similar hoax first appeared in Nigeria six years ago.