On seeing his phone light up with an international number during wee hours on June 8, Waseem Shah thought it was an emergency call from his relatives in Saudi Arabia but to his dismay, the phone disconnected in just three seconds.
He called back and found himself in a dilemma as no one responded to his 'hello'. After disconnecting the call, he received an alert regarding his phone balance. Shah was taken aback as a certain fee was deducted from his balance. By the time he realised what had happened, he had fallen prey to a phone scam.
Amid the pandemic, people of Jammu and Kashmir are receiving suspicious phone calls from unknown international numbers which ring for a few seconds and disconnect leaving everyone curious to call back.
If you are wondering why is somebody trying to call you from abroad without wanting to say hello from the other side? Hold on. Don't call back on the number, you might have to pay a price for it. Yes, it is not just another call but 'One ring phone scam' or 'Wangiri'.
What is the One Ring Phone scam or Wangiri?
The phishing phone scam which is also known as 'Wangiri' is known to dupe people with just one ring. Here's how it is done.
The scammers target people by calling them from an international number for one ring and then hang up. When people call the number back, the balance in their phone automatically starts getting fleeced by the fraudsters.
The fraudsters bank on the curiosity factor as people think the international call could be an emergency so when they return the call, it might ring for a long time or even be received by an automated system. The longer you stay on the call, you may wind up being charged a per-minute fee.
Fun fact: The One ring scam is originally known as Wangiri as the scam originated in Japan. The word translates to 'one ring and cut' which is how the fraudsters scam people.
Kashmir Cyber Police takes cognisance of the 'One ring scam'
In an exclusive conversation with International Business Times, India, SP Tahir Ashraf, KPS, Incharge Cyber Police Kashmir who took the one ring scam head-on, spoke about the scam in detail.
"Yesterday (June 8) we received a lot on complaints via calls from the people of Kashmir who were panicking about the suspicious missed calls they were receiving from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries."
"They also complained about how money from their pre-paid balance has been cut after calling back on the numbers. The people said once they called back, it would either be an automated system or the call would connect to a call centre.
The cyber police decided to reach out to a team of experts and find out what the whole deal was. "We learnt that it was the 'One Ring Phone Scam' which is phishing phone scam happened around the globe but is one of the first in Kashmir."
"We immediately took cognisance of the situation and put out warnings and guidelines on TV, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and radio about the scam call and steps to avoid falling prey to it.
'Do not panic, reach out to your service providers immediately': JK Cyber Police
"We, the Cyber Police request people of Kashmir to report the scam calls to your service providers like Jio, Airtel etc so they can take the required action to block the international numbers and this way you can save yourself from the one ring scam." - Tahir Ashraf, KPS, Cyber Police Kashmir
Ashraf further added, "Amid the pandemic, do not panic and rush to police stations while you can simply reach out to us on JK Cyber Police social media handles."
How to avoid getting scammed by One Ring Scam Callers?
- Do not call back when you get missed calls from unknown international numbers, especially calls that you are not expecting.
- Always check if the area code is an international number. If yes, don't receive or call back.
- Download caller apps as they help in identifying such scam operations, as other users will likely have reported them as a scam before.
- If you are confused about the International codes use tools like Google to find out.
- If you are charged for calling back on the scam number or being harassed, report the number to your service provider, immediately.