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'Death Calls' / 'Killer Phone Number' Warnings

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Forwarded emails and text messages warn mobile phone users not to accept calls from certain numbers which allegedly transmit a high-frequency signal causing brain hemorrhage and death.

Description: Rumor / Hoax
Circulating since: April 2007
Status: False (see details below)


2011 examples:
Text messages circulating in Nigeria, Sep. 14, 2011:

Please, don't pick any call with 09141 its instant death after the call, 7 people have died already.please tell others fast,its urgent.

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Pls don’t pick any call wit 09141 its instant dead tell others



2010 example:
As posted in an online forum, Sep. 1, 2010:

FW: Number za Shetani

Hi Colleagues,

I don’t know how true this is but just take precaution. Please don’t attend to any calls from the following numbers:

* 7888308001 *
* 9316048121 *
* 9876266211 *
* 9888854137 *
* 9876715587 *

These numbers come in red colors. U may get brain hemorrhage due to high frequency. 27 persons died just receiving the calls watch the DD news to confirm. Please inform all your relatives and friends soon it’s urgent.



2007 example:
Email contributed by Youssef B., May 2, 2007:

Hi All,

Its very important news for all of you. Do not pick up calls Under given numbers.

, 9888308001
, 9316048121 91+
, 9876266211
, 9888854137
, 9876715587

These numbers will come in red color, if the calls comes up from these numbers. Its with very high wave length, and frequency. If a call is received on mobile from these numbers, it creates a very high frequency and it causes brain ham range.

It's not a joke rather, its TRUE. 27 persons died just on receiving calls from these numbers. Watch Aaj Tak (NEWS), DD News and IBN 7.

Forward this message to all u'r friends and colleagues, and relatives



Analysis: (Updated) Don't panic, it's a hoax. Variants of the so-called "red number," "cursed phone number," or "death call" hoax first appeared on April 13, 2007 (Friday the 13th) in Pakistan, where they caused widespread panic and inspired a slew of ancillary rumors, including the claim that the phone calls, if listened to, could also trigger impotence in men and pregnancy in women. According to news reports, Pakistanis were heard trading secondhand stories of actual deaths that had supposedly occurred, with some claiming the fatalities were the handiwork of ancestral spirits enraged by the construction of a cell phone tower over a graveyard.

In an effort to quell the hysteria, government officials and mobile phone providers issued statements disproving the rumors, but, just as they began to subside in Pakistan, similar messages commenced spreading throughout Asia, the Middle East, and finally Africa. MTN Areeba, the largest cellular network in Ghana, released a statement echoing the assurances previously made by other providers: "A full scale national and international priority investigation has been conducted in the last 48 hours," a spokesperson said. "The investigation has confirmed that these rumours are completely unsubstantiated and have no technological evidence to support them."

According to engineers, cell phones are incapable of emitting sound frequencies that could cause immediate physical injury or death.

Earlier (2004) variant suggests rumor may have originated in Africa

In July 2004 a much simpler version of this rumor caused a minor outbreak of panic in Nigeria. An example of the forwarded text message published on South Africa's Independent Online news website read as follows:

Beware! You'll die if you take a call from any of these phone numbers: 0802 311 1999 or 0802 222 5999.

"This is an absolute hoax and should be treated as such," said a representative of Nigeria's largest cellular provider at the time, VMobile, in a statement to the press.

Nokia version immediately followed

A bogus "confidential letter" apparently inspired by the Nigerian rumor began circulating around the same time, purporting to have been written by a Nokia executive who claimed that "use of our mobile phones can cause spontaneous death to the user in certain circumstances."

"The problem manifests itself when the phone is dialled from certain numbers," continued the letter, replete with misspellings and poor English grammar. "The mobile base sends out massive quantities of electromagnetic energy, whic resonates from the mobile phone's antenna. As the user answers his phone, the energy surges into his body, resulting in both coronary heart failure and brain haemorraging, generally followed by severe external bleeding and rapid death."

Nokia quickly disavowed the letter, dismissing it as a "work of fiction."

2010 update: 'Red Number' Killer Phone Call Rumor Sparks Panic in Kenya

2011 update: Nigeria Government Dismisses 'Killer' Phone Number (09141)

See also: Rumor: Text Messages Can Kill

See also: The Phone Call of Death - 999-999-9999


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Sources and further reading:

Ring of Death a Hoax
Kuwait Times, 27 April 2007

Mobile Phone Virus Scare Jumps from Pakistan to Afghanistan
Cellular-News, 16 April 2007

'Death Call from the Dark Side' Spooks Karachi
Daily Times (Pakistan), 14 April 2007

Panic Spreads Over 'Killer' Cell Phone Numbers
Independent Online, 22 July 2004

Nigerian Rumor 'Killer Phone' Numbers Kill
UPI, 19 July 2004


Last updated: 12/20/11

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