No basis to ‘deadly phone virus’, reassures Dhiraagu

Erroneous reports of a deadly phone call that supposedly uses high frequency tones to cause brain hemorrhaging have hit the Maldives in a tidal wave of warning text messages, TV news reports and panicked gossip.

Several local television news channels in the Maldivians have already reported the urban legend as fact, creating widespread panic by claiming that 27 people had already died worldwide including two Maldivians, supposedly in Fuvamula. This was not confirmed by police.

The story is a recurrent hoax that is thought to have originated in Afghanistan in 2007, according to Reuters, which reported the outbreak of mass hysteria in April that year. However the rumours quickly spread to Pakistan, where they were blamed on ‘God’s wrath’, before resurfacing in India in 2006 as ‘devil calls’. These variants also featured a death count of 27.

One account by the Institute of War and Peace Reporting traces the myth’s origins to a political spat between the Afghan Interior Ministry and Ministry of Communications.

The Maldivian version involves the circulation of a text message similar to:

”Dont attend to any calls from 7888308033, 9316048121, 9876266211, 9888854137, 9876715587 these numbers come in red color. U may get brain hamrage due to high frequency. 27 person died just receiving the call. Watch dd news to confirm. Please inform all your friends and relatives soon – its urgent.”

Dhiraagu Marketing and Public Relations Manager Mohamed Mirushan said all the stories and texts about deadly mobile phone viruses were baseless.

”People are calling and asking about the virus,” he said. ”It is technologically impossible for a phone call to cause a brain haemorrhage.”

He said that people should not always believe what a text message said.