Behind the ‘Red Number Hoax’
Imagine a scenario where you are enjoying your usual brew of coffee, when you get a phone call from an unidentified number on your mobile. The next thing you remember is glass cracking and the next moment you are dead before you knew what was actually happening.
The rumours swept like wildfire among Maldivians on Tuesday, with chain messages warning the receiver not to answer calls from 7888308001, 9316048121, 9876266211, 9888854137 and 9876715587, “which would be in red colour.” Or else “you may get brain haemorrhage due to high frequency,” the texts read. They also claimed “27 people died just receiving the call,” urging the receiver to “watch DD News [an Indian public broadcaster] to confirm” the reports.
The messages caused panic, confusion and fear across the country, and the news spread everywhere, with many forwarding the stories to their friends, family and colleagues via text messages, as asked by the sender.
It reminded me of the fictional global blackout shown in ABC’s television show ‘FlashForward,’ which was allegedly engineered by a group of scientists specialising in Plasma Wakefield Experiments and complicated quantum physics. I actually thought some scientists specialised in high-tech gadgets and radioactivity created a method to kill people by using mobile phones!
Mohamed Mirshan Hassan, Manager Marketing Communications and Public Relations of Dhiraagu, the leading telecommunications provider in the Maldives, however, confirmed that the message was a hoax.
“We often get spam emails from people who claim to be African kings or princes. Such hoax emails and messages are intended to create fear among the public. People should not be panicked by such messages. There is nothing to worry about,” he said.
In deep analysis of the ‘Red Number’ call warning that revolved around the Maldives; it can be observed that the message was not actually new. In fact, variants of the text message were reported to have first appeared on April 13, 2007 in Pakistan, where they caused widespread panic and inspired a slew of ancillary rumours, such as the claim that the phone calls, if listened to, could also cause impotence in men and pregnancy in women, about.com explains. Pakistanis attributed the ‘virus’ to the wrath of God and claimed that it was the handiwork of ancestral spirits enraged by the construction of a cell phone tower in a graveyard. The rumour eventually spread to Kuwait and Middle Eastern countries.
On Apr 26, 2008, Cambodian officials reported a spreading rumour within the country, which claimed that a ghostly red number was appearing on mobile phones and killing people. The news broke in the country and the deeply superstitious Cambodians believed that it was the work of sorcerers and spirits, M&G News reported.
A few hours after the spread of the news, dozens of theories about how this virus kills its victims were traded within the Maldives. Some people claimed that, the actual cause of the instant death was a loud noise heard by the receiver, which leads to the explosion of blood vessels in the brain. This explanation, however, has been rejected, as a mobile phone speaker cannot produce such high-frequency sounds.
The reports that radiation or high frequency of the call causes brain haemorrhage has also been falsified, as mobile devices, being low power transceivers, have a typical maximum output power of two watts and the highest frequency of two gigahertz. The low power (short-range) electromagnetic radiation emitted from mobile phones due to the use of radio frequency (RF) waves to make and receive calls, can in no way harm a human.
While one warning sign has been that the ‘killer’ number appears in red colour on the screen, it is apparently clear that phones with monochrome (black-and-white) displays cannot possibly show red colour for any of its operations. Therefore, those with monochrome displays are dead meat and having such a phone appears to be the best precautionary measure to take, if something like that ever happens.
“Mobile phones are designed to operate in a safe frequency and our [network] frequency is also safe [for humans]. In addition, mobile phones can only display colours they were designed to display. Text messages [and calls] cannot be made to appear in a certain colour, without installing specialised software, like our Colour SMS software,” Mirshan said.
No matter how illogical these rumours may sound, they have sent a shiver down the spine for many, with some stopping receiving calls or SMS messages from unknown numbers or numbers they are not familiar with.
“These rumours simply do not make sense. Who would believe that a simple call or text message could kill a person?” a local blogger and science enthusiast, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
However, there are people who believe that a call can instantly kill off a person.
“There might be some truth in the rumours. I remember the story of a killing in American Embassy via a telephone call back in the 1980s. I am not saying that the rumours are true, but I was scared after reading the SMS. Since anything is possible now, it can be possible,” Ahmed Hassan, a local artist and photographer said.
I am sure Mossad can kill you through a telephone. This is why Shaikh Osama Bin never answers the phone himself. I do it for him.
Originally Posted by sheikhness
I knew it!
The member that no one remembers.
There was this old really lame Indian horror/suspense show I saw in Britain when I was visiting, where one of the episodes was about people who were found dead after picking up a call and going "Hello?...hello?...hello?"
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