There have been numerous warnings throughout social media and instant messaging services in the country for the past week regarding a phone call scam that has emerged and is hitting on the numbers across cellular networks of Pakistan.
Many citizens reported getting phone calls from unknown international numbers. The tell-tale sign of the Wangiri or one-call scam which gives a call to the people in hope that they would return the call and hence would be charged with high call rates.
Wangiri means to “one ring and cut” in Japan from where the scam actually began.
In Pakistan, WhatsApp users sent a message to their contact list warning them from receiving calls against certain numbers beginning from +371, +375, +381, +255, +563. The message read that the scammers call just once and then they hung up. On calling back, they could copy the caller’s entire contact list in just 3 seconds and if there are any bank details on the phone, they could copy that as well.
The message also informed its recipients that if any caller asks you to dial #90 or #09 from your mobile then do not oblige as this is a new way being used for accessing SIM card for making calls faking your identity and framing one as a criminal.
The deputy director of Federal Investigation Agency Punjab Cybercrime Wing—Khalid Anees said that these forwarded messages are creating a panic among the public. He added that it is not possible to access SIM cards via international calls.
He further said that these calls are being made via the internet, and this is called “net war”.
This scam is not new, it dates back to 2012 when Australian citizens reported getting calls from international numbers. Reports suggest that just by calling back personal data could not be stolen instantly. For stealing such data, hackers would have to look for some other way of getting to the phone which would need much more than just random calling on a particular number.
Norbert Almeida—the local security expert agrees with the statement of FIA and said that phones cannot possibly be hacked this way. He added that the only thing scammers could do is to expect you to call back and when you do that could incur high calling charges in which the hackers have got a share.
Almeida further mentions not to call back on unknown international numbers. And if the calls keep on coming then he suggests not to answer.