Death Calls: Killer Phone Number Warning Hoaxes

Netlore Archive

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Did you receive a forwarded email or text message warning you not to accept calls from certain numbers? The calls allegedly transmit a high-frequency signal causing brain hemorrhage and death. Do not worry. Similar rumors have circulated since 2007 and have been repeatedly debunked by authorities. As happens with such hoaxes, they crop up again and again in slightly different forms.

  • Description: Rumor / Hoax
  • Circulating Since: April 2007
  • Status: False 

Examples of the Death Call Hoax

Compare any such message with these examples. Often, they are copied and passed along verbatim.

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

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.

Analysis of the Killer Phone Number 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 rumors 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 in Nigeria

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.

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 dialed from certain numbers," continued the letter, replete with misspellings and poor English grammar. "The mobile base sends out massive quantities of electromagnetic energy, which 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 hemorrhaging, generally followed by severe external bleeding and rapid death."

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

If You Recieve a Similar Message

If you receive any similar message, feel free to delete it and don't pass it on. You may point the person who forwarded it to the explanation that this is not a new threat and it is a hoax. Reassure the sender that you appreciate their concern but there is no danger.