Be warned of the ‘One Ring Scam’ | Daily News

Be warned of the ‘One Ring Scam’

[Expert Advice]

*Do not pick up calls from unknown IDD numbers


*If you miss a call from a suspicious IDD number, do not call back

*Report all such calls to the TRC and your mobile service provider

As smartphone technology continues to evolve at a fast pace, it has also paved the way for an increasing number of mobile phone scams worldwide. Despite constant reporting and warnings by experts, people continue to fall victim to scammers repeatedly, due to their varying traps and tactics.

Similar mobile phone scams have seen a rise within Sri Lanka in the recent past. From text message scams to phone insurance scams, reports have revealed that Sri Lankan mobile users are now being constantly targeted by local and foreign scammers with many being defrauded out of large amounts of cash.

Roshan Chandragupta

The recent mobile phone fraud to hit Sri Lanka has been the ‘One Ring Scam’ also popularly called the ‘Wangiri phone scam’ as many mobile users in the country were hit with a barrage of calls this week from numbers with a foreign IDD codes leaving many people confused. Unable to establish as to where these calls were being placed from, many members of the public were seen voicing their concerns on social media regarding these unusual calls being received by them. With government agencies setting up investigations into the incidents, however according to experts the only way to avoid being scammed is to simply not call back.

‘One Ring’ Scam

According to 28-year-old Jehan Perera, he had received a similar call on Monday this week. “The IDD code read as +1 (767) while an application on my phone detected it as a incoming call from Dominica,” he says adding that he decided to not pick up as he did not personally know anyone from that country.

“I felt it was unusual so I did not pick up and neither did I call back,” says Jehan explaining that it was only later that he found out he among many others had been targeted by fraudsters in a ‘One Ring Scam’.

According to Roshan Chandraguptha, the Information Security Officer of the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) the scam attempts to lure people to return calls to specific IDD numbers where they will be then charged premium IDD rates.

The scam will often start with the scammer obtaining an international premium rate number (IPRN) from a mobile service provider and a potential victim receiving a missed call from the said IDD number. According to experts the scammers will then depend on human curiosity and hope the victim will call back. In addition to the missed calls, you may also receive a text message or email that would ask you to “please urgently call back” on a given fraudulent number.

If the victim does call back he will possibly face heavy mobile charges ranging from connection fees and further conversion and transfer charges while the scammers will make various attempts to keep the victim on line for as long as possible. According to experts sometimes, these scam numbers will redirect calls to other very expensive numbers while the longer a person stays on call, the higher he will be charged. Scammers might also keep a caller on hold to keep the victim on call for longer period.

During the time unknown to the victim he will be charged high IDD rates for the call being made, for which the scammers will receive a commission of around one USD per call made from the mobile service provider.

“It is difficult to say how much the scam victim will be charged,” says Chandragupta adding that however, it could possibly even go over a 100 USD.

According to foreign media reports once a victim calls back he could be charged around 19.95 USD as a connection fee along with possible further connection charges as well as per-minute fees of at least Nine USD. Already charged a hefty sum for the call, victims will unfortunately not be able to get their money back in this scam as the charges are completely legal as the call was placed by the victim himself.

International connections

Many reports suggests such calls are mostly originating from countries such as Burundi, Malawi, Pakistan, Belarus among many others such as various islands in the West Indies as seen by the calls being received from Sri Lankan mobile users. Reports say some of the IDD codes that have been used in these scams are 268, 809, 876, 284, and 473.

Fortunate for many mobile users in the country the unusual nature rather than peak their curiosity to call back had instead moved them to take precautions against any such calls.

According to the TRC, while many callers had not responded to the missed calls however, those who returned the call had been charged an exorbitant amount of money for returning the call to that number. Some mobile phone users had said they had received calls from the United States while others had received calls from various Caribbean destinations.

The TRC says that Interconnection charges during such calls can be extremely high which has possibly resulted in hefty charges noticed by local victims.

Take precautions- do not answer

Meanwhile, the TRC has also reached out to local mobile service providers regarding the recent scam. Releasing a statement according to the TRC, Mobitel has blocked incoming calls from such numbers in the interest of their customers while similar action had been taken by Dialog Axiata. Other service providers had informed the commission that any similar fraudulent calls will be blocked while however, they claim no customer complaints regarding such calls had been received by them.

With many complaints being received by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRC) regarding such cold calls, the TRC along with the Sri Lanka Telecom have now commenced two separate investigations into the incidents.

While mobile providers have taken possible action in this regard, experts too have advised the public to refrain from entertaining such calls.

“Members of the public should be wary of any calls being received from unknown IDD numbers,” Chandragupta says adding that the only way to avoid being scammed is to simply not call back. “This is the only way to not fall victim to these fraudsters,” he said. 


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