This post was originally published in August 2017 at the height of the last wave of what is know as the "Wangiri Scam" or "Missed call scam". Unfortunately it has become necessary to re-post this piece with reports of thousands of scam mobile phone calls are being received throughout the country. While the call prefixes may change, the negative impact on your bank balance, should you call back has not.
A mobile phone scam that has being doing the rounds for a number of years now has hit the headlines over the past week with numerous reports in Ireland of phone users being targeted. Internationally it is known as the Wangiri Scam that originated in Japan back in the early 2000's with Wangiri literally meaning "one ring and cut".
How it Works
The scammers buy up a range of numbers and then use automated machines to randomly make quick missed calls to different numbers. You'll receive a call from an overseas number that you don't recoginse, however your phone will only ring a couple of times before the caller hangs up. Don't call back - the scam is only successful if you do. You will almost immediately be put on hold all the while connected to a premium rate number and left with the mother of all phone bills.
The current wave of calls appear to originating from Africa with numbers beginning with +224 Guinea, +252 Somalia, + 235 Chad, however the number could be any combination, with numbers originating from Russia in the past. It's not a very sophisticated scam but very effective for the fraudsters if you are one of the few who call back. Gardaí are aware of the situation and have stated that they are monitoring the situation. The Irish Cellular Industry Association (ICIA) and Alliance of Meteor/Eir, Three and Vodaphone have also warning their customers to avoid the scam.
What should you do?
The advise from both IT.ie and the ICIA if you receive a call from an international number that you don't recognise:
- Do not call the number back: If it's a legitimate call then the caller will likely ring back and more likely leave a voicemail.
- If you think the number might be suspect, don't answer and let it go to voicemail.
- A quick Google of the number will likely tell you if it is part of any ongoing scam calls.