Notorious phone call scam ‘Wangiri’ emerges in Pakistan

By: |Syed Ahad Hussain|

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Caution spread across social media and instant messaging services in Pakistan last week as a notorious phone call scam re-emerged, targeting numbers across cellular networks.

Various citizens reported receiving phone calls from international unknown numbers – an indication of the Wangiri or one-call scam which calls people expecting that they will return the call and be charged soaring call rates. Wangiri, meaning ‘one ring and cut’, originated in Japan.

Whatsapp users nation-wide forwarded this message to friends on their contact list:

Please pass this message to your family and friends NOW. People have been receiving calls from Tel: +375602605281 Tel: +37127913091 Tel: +37178565072 Tel: +56322553736 Tel: +37052529259 Tel: +255901130460 or any number starting from +371 +375 +381 These guys only ring once and hang up. If you call back,they can copy your contact list in 3sec and if you have a bank or credit card details on your phone, they can copy that too… +375 code is for Belarus. +371 code is for Lativa. +381 Serbia. +563 Valparaiso. +370 Vilnius. +255 Tanzania. Don’t answer or Call back. Also, Don’t Press #90 or #09 on your Mobile when asked by any caller. It’s a new trick which is use to access your SIM card, make calls at your expense and frame you as a criminal. URGENTLY FORWARD this message to as many friends as you can to stop any intrusion!!

The deputy director of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Punjab Cybercrime Wing Khalid Anees said the above-mentioned message is creating fright. He said, “It is not possible to access the SIM card using international calls. “The received calls are being made through the internet; this is called ‘net war’. Circulating these forwards messages is like giving credence to rumor mongering.”

Back in 2012, users in Australia reported receiving unwanted calls from unknown international numbers. The ‘call back scam’ was noted by a website reporting that people have been tempted into dialing these numbers back out of curiosity, after which they were charged up to $15 for the call. While reports confirmed that personal data from the user’s phone cannot be directly stolen by simply returning the calls.

Hackers would have so much more than merely dialing a particular number to steal the data from phones.

Local security expert Norbert Almeida agrees with the FIA’s statement, saying, “phones cannot be hacked in this way. The only thing they can do is expect you to call back and incur high calling charges, in which the hackers get a cut.”

“Don’t call back unknown international numbers. And if it persists, just don’t answer,” he added.

The writer tweets at https://twitter.com/SyedAhadVedux

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