You had a good night’s sleep and you wake up refreshed in the morning. And as the millennial routine goes you pick up your phone to check messages/feed even before you brush your teeth. You see a burst of missed calls and you wonder what happened. Who called you in the dead of the night, what is the emergency and why is it that you did not hear the call? In a state of panic you call back to check.
What you do not realize is that the number is an International number usually starting with an international code of +3xxx or +2xxx and at the end of the month you get a bill with a large number. +381 and +375 are the ones I have seen on my phone. But there are quite a few countries where these calls originate from. Russia, African countries – Nigeria, Burundi, Malawi, Mali…, USSR countries – Serbia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan even. Egypt, Iraq are the latest entrants. US is there in the list too. Obviously, I have no friends and family staying in the Serbia or Belarus so I didn’t call back. But why would they call? Why wouldn’t I hear the call?
This is a phone scam called ‘Wangiri’. Wangiri is Japanese for ‘one ring and cut’. This scam originated in Japan, hence the Japanese name. They usually give a single ring and cut the call which is why you wouldn’t have heard the ring or received the call. These numbers are international premium rate numbers (IPRN) so when you call back you are charged call rates which are higher than the regular rates. What do the callers get? A share of the call revenue.
Sometimes they also text a number asking you to call back. Usually on the lines of “Urgent, Please call!!”
When you call you either hear some adult content, hold music tone, silence or some recorded voice. The longer you stay on the call the more money they make.
Apart from this it is also supposedly used for voice recording and using it for making calls to your bank and impersonating you. Some of them also apparently copy your private data or download trojan to your device. Although am not sure of these claims or the technology that can be used to do this I am just adding the info. Please verify this from a credible source before believing or passing on this information.
What can you do to avoid being scammed here:
Do not call back or even receive calls when it comes from an unknown International number. If it is your friend or a family member exchange the number before-hand through email or text message or Whatsapp.
Google for country codes when you get calls from unknown International numbers. And also search for phone scams and avoid numbers from those countries.
Report these numbers to operators and also block those numbers. You an app like truecaller to identify callers.
Losing money from calling back may be a one-time thing but if you lose personal data that may be more damaging. Stay safe!
This is part of my custom ‘Jaago Grahak Jaago’ series. Do check out the other similar post and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.