Last weekend tens of thousands mobile phone users in Ireland woke up to a missed call, that, at the first glance, appeared to have originated locally. However, it was actually just a carefully disguised premium rate service number based in Slovenia, which the scammers used to profit from those who called back. While there is still no exact data on how much money in total the users have lost, it is estimates that connection charge alone was in excess of €2 in addition to similar costs incurred by the users for each minute spent on the call.
The scam was initially set up to play on peoples’ feelings and emotions after missing a call in the middle of the night, and it worked to the extent that people called back. Once the user had called back, the automatized system would play random noises to ensure that the caller stays for as long as possible and pays as much as he can. Many of tellows users are also annoyed by the calls in the middle of the night, our user sleepless reported:
Last night, while I was sound asleep, my phone rang. WTF! I was really pissed because I was sleeping soundly and then a sudden phone call woke me up. I did not answer the first call and then, someone from this number gave me more rings and it reached 20 missed calls. That was ridiculous. I HATE IT , REALLY !
Our user Jippard gives a good advice to everyone who has ever got a missed call:
Don’t answer calls from this number. If you answer you’ll only get harassed more and more from this company and others. If you get calls from strange numbers that you don’t recognise don’t answer. If its an important call they’ll leave you a message and you can phone them back.
The good news are that everything is being done to stop the fraudulent earnings reaching the scammers pockets, and, hopefully, Irish consumers will be reimbursed for any costs they have incurred due to the scam. Nevertheless, the idea behind prevention of this particular fraud is not just to keep the customers happy or to stop those in charge of the scam profiting from it. Irish communications regulator ComReg has stated that prevention is also being done to prove to others who may attempt a similar trick that the payment system in Ireland is secure enough to be able to withstand such scams and not to pay out the wanted money.
No data protection issues can be seen so far in the case, as the numbers that were called had been generated by a computer and all had the same prefix of 087, therefore it appears that there is no connection to any phone lists being leaked or used. However, regardless of the fact that the scammers will not get their money, they are also unlikely to be traced as the host numbers that appear to have come from Slovenia may have been cloned and could have come from a completely different place.
ComReg spokesperson has said that such scams are not uncommon in Ireland and are dealt with as quickly as possible and that any person, who believes that they may have been a victim to this particular scam, should contact their personal phone service provider to check whether any costs have been incurred.
Phone scams are by all means not the only type of fraud that are constantly happening. Letters from supposed foreign Lottery funds asking you to cover administration costs before you receive your money; SMS telling you that you have won money and that you need to call back; advertisements suggesting work from home where you have to pay for materials first; fake computer virus alerts and emails from banks requesting your financial details – all of these are scams that are not uncommon and might be attempted on anyone, therefore it is always essential to watch out for them. And Tellows is always here for you to help fighting against annoying scammers. Together, we can !