Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C told MyBroadband they have seen an increase in Wangiri phone fraud in South Africa. Wangiri is a form of phone fraud which originated in Japan.
The name translates to “one and cut”, and comes from fraudsters calling your phone, letting it ring once, and then disconnecting their call.
If you return the missed call, you are tricked into calling a premium-rated number that charges exorbitant rates.
South African mobile subscribers recently reported that they are receiving an increasing volume of missed calls from unknown international numbers.
The reports state that the calls are from across Africa and Europe, including Guinea, France, and Belgium.
“Someone just told me she called back a missed call from Guinea and got charged R780 for a few seconds,” social media law specialist Emma Sadleir recently said on Twitter.
What Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C are doing
Vodacom and Cell C said users will only be billed if they return the call, and there is no danger in answering calls from international numbers.
Cell C said it is unlikely that you will answer the calls in time, though, as their purpose is to get you to call back.
MTN said it is monitoring these calls daily and is suspending the number ranges so customers cannot dial them.
It is also working with carrier services and originating operators to clamp down on the fraud.
MTN said its subscribers should refrain from returning missed calls from unknown international numbers.
It also encouraged customers to report any suspicious numbers so the company can authenticate them and block them on its network.
Vodacom also blocks numbers reported to it, but said it can’t stop them fast enough.
“As quickly as we block them, new numbers are used. Do not return the calls of unknown missed callers,” said Vodacom.
Cell C encouraged subscribers to report the numbers to it on 140.
“Network operators are working to block these numbers as and when they occur,” said Cell C.