Explained – ‘Wangiri’ Telephone Fraud – ‘One Ring and Cut’ – Missed phone calls from unknown numbers – Don’t call back

The ‘One Ring’ scam is often referred to as Wangiri, is a phone fraud that originated in Japan. The scam involves a computer dialing a large number of mobile phone numbers at random. The numbers appear as missed calls on the recipients’ phones. Believing a legitimate call was cut off, or simply curious, users are enticed to call back. The numbers are either premium rate, or contain advertising messages.

Wangiri is not new, and the concept is simple. A fraudster dials a random number then immediately hangs up, with the intention that the victim wastes lots of money when they call back to a premium rate line. The name derives from the Japanese words for one ring before the line is cut, and on the internet I can find references to wangiri that date back to 1996.

Users often see the missed call and believe a legitimate call was cut off, or are simply curious as to who called, so they dial the missed number.  The number turns out to be a premium rate number – anything from advertising to “free prizes” to sex services.

A single call to this number may cost you up to Rs 200 a minute.

There is also an SMS variant of Wangiri fraud.  In this variation, subscribers receive an SMS message like “Please call me back, this is urgent!” as a way to entice them to return a call.

Fraud Scenario

  1. The Fraudster sets up calls to voice subscribers, but hangs up after one ring. This means that the fraudster isn’t charged for making the calls.
  2. Curious subscribers see a missed call on their phones, and return the call, not realizing that the number is actually a high cost destination.
  3. If subscribers are on a flat rate plan, the service provider will be left paying high termination costs with no corresponding increase in revenue
  4. The Fraudster shares in the revenue from the fraudulent calls.

The racketeers hire a premiumrate number from a telecom service provider and then give missed calls to unsuspecting people As you call back, you end up paying a higher charge and a part of the money goes into the account of the scammers In Kolkata, most of the fraud calls start with the number +22455 or +247., making people think it’s a call from Mumbai, whose STD code is 022 The fraud originated in Japan in 2000 where it is called ‘Wangiri Fraud’. ‘Wangiri’ means ‘one ring and cut’. A single call to this number may cost you up to Rs 200 a minute Thousands may have been duped in Kolkata With the calls being routed through a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, it is difficult to trace the country of origin But since the fraudsters talk to victims in Hindi, it’s apparent that the racket is entrenched in this country, too.

Be Alert – Be Safe: If you receive a call from an international number that they don’t recognize:

  • Do not call the number back: If it is a legitimate call, then the chances are that the caller will call you back or leave you a voicemail.

  • Be vigilant about protecting their number whenever possible, ensuring they are careful when answering calls to numbers they don’t recognize or calling an unrecognized number back after a missed call.

Beware WhatsApp Wangiri

A new WhatsApp Wangiri fraud campaign has emerged. WhatsApp users are urged to call an international number which incurs significant costs.

WhatsApp users are warned to be on the lookout for these messages, and not to return the call as requested.


References: Wikipedia, Times of India

Please feel free to write your comments, suggestions or corrections.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s