Beware! “One-ring” scam is targeting Pakistanis via phone calls

Written by Faisal Saeed ·  1 min read >

A notorious one-ring scam is targeting Pakistanis on cellular networks using phone calls.

Pakistani citizens are warning each other on social media websites and messaging apps after the resurfacing of an “on-ring” resurfaced in Pakistan last week. Several Pakistani citizens have received phone calls from unknown international numbers, which is raising the suspicion about “Wangiri” or “one-ring” scam.

Wangiri originally emerged from Japan, and it means “one ring and disconnect”, which means it enables scammers to generate robocalls to hundreds of thousands of mobile users, mostly to their mobile devices.

The phone call ends with a missed call notification on the receiving end, urging the receiver to call back. The scam tricks thousands of users into dialing an international number and hence exposing them to the risk of getting charged heavily for the connecting fee, and huge per-minute charges.

After the call made several rounds with the users across the country, some citizens started posted warnings and messages on social media and instant messaging apps.

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The deputy director of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Punjab Cybercrime Wing, Khalid Anees said that these messages are creating a panic situation among citizens. He told Dawn, “It is not possible to access the SIM card using international calls. The received calls are being made through the internet; this is called ‘net war’. Circulating these forwards messages is like giving credence to rumor mongering.”

A user who received a call from this scam ring shared a message on WhatsApp, which reads;

“Very Very Urgent …
Please pass this message to your family and friends NOW.
People have been receiving calls from
Tel: +375602605281
Tel: +37127913091
Tel: +37178565072
Tel: +56322553736
Tel: +37052529259
Tel: +255901130460
or any number starting from +371 +375 +381
These guys only ring once and hang up.
If you call back, they can copy your contact list in 3 sec and if you have a bank or credit card details on your phone, they can copy that too…
+375 code is for Belarus.
+371 code is for Lativa.
+381 Serbia.
+563 Valparaiso.
+370 Vilnius.
+255 Tanzania.
Don’t answer or Call back.
Also, Don’t Press
#90 or #09
on your Mobile when asked by any caller.
It’s a new trick which is used to access your SIM card, make calls at your expense and frame you as a criminal.
URGENTLY FORWARD this message to as many friends as you can to stop any intrusion!!!”

Anonymous calls as these originated for the first time in Australia, back in 2012. The message claims that by calling on these numbers users are not only exposing them to charging a fee for the call, but there is a great chance that they compromising their cellular data as well.

But the reports suggest that simply returning the phone calls to these numbers have no serious impact on the user’s data. In order to steal such information, hackers would have to devise another way to penetrate the phone which requires a much more complex system than just calling a phone number.

Local security expert Norbert Almeida had also supported the FIA’s statement, “Phones cannot be hacked in this way. The only thing they can do is expect you to call back and incur high calling charges, in which the hackers get a cut.” Almeida added, “Don’t call back unknown international numbers. And if it persists, just don’t answer.”