Wangiri Fraud: What to do when a strange foreign number calls you

Have you ever received a call from an unknown foreign number that only rang once? Did you return that missed call? If you have, the chances are that you might have lost money. Wangiri fraud is the term used to describe the ‘one ring and cut’ calls that fraudsters use to con people with hopes of making a profit. On Thursday, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations took to Twitter to educate Kenyans on the Wangiri fraud.

“Wangiri fraud entails receiving missed calls from international numbers you don’t recognise on a mobile/fixed-line phone. The fraudsters generating the calls hope that their expensive international numbers will be called back so that they can profit.” The term Wangiri is Japanese for “one (ring) and cut.” And as the name would imply, it’s a genuinely international scam, with victims distributed across the world. Warnings about the scam have appeared in Kenyan, the U.K., Canadian, Irish, and New Zealand media, among others,” said the DCI.

How does Wangiri Fraud work?

Fraudsters use the ‘One Ring to Rule Them All’ where they call numbers and immediately disconnect with hopes that curious people will return the call. The scammers use phone numbers bought on the dark web that they use to ring other numbers. “Wangiri Scam relies upon one’s innate curiosity. Many people would instinctively return a missed call, even from a mysterious international number. And the repetitive nature of the scam adds to the intrigue and pressure.”

“The aim of the scam is to encourage those who get a missed call to ring the number, after which they will be ripped off as the call will be re-routed to premium rate number overseas & will be subsequently billed exorbitant sums for listening to pre-recorded messages,” added the DCI.

What should you do when you get a Wangiri call?

The DCI warned Kenyans that getting a Wangiri call means the scammers have specifically targeted you.  This is because the fraudster might have generated a missed call to go to several phone numbers, including yours. “We recommend that you don’t return calls to international numbers that you don’t recognise. Calls to Wangiri numbers will often result in a charge being incurred and encourage the fraudster to generate more missed calls to customers who choose to call back,” urged the DCI.

One Twitter use, Henry Gitau, said, “I think they are on Twitter too. Someone inboxed me a link, and after opening it my 2GB data was consumed in two minutes.”

Kenyans who have fallen trap of the Wangiri fraud and returned the calls are urged to call their mobile service providers and explain the issue so that they can block the numbers.

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