Phone scam hits Jamaica

Jamaica Observer:-JAMAICA is the latest country to have been affected by the ‘Wangiri Scam’, which resulted in hundreds of phone customers receiving missed calls from the +48 area code, originating in Poland, over the weekend.

The scam, translated in Japanese as ‘one ring and cut’, literally means that the caller calls once, then hangs up. By leaving the missed call message on the user’s phone, the scammers hope that the users will call back, and when they do, they pocket the revenue from the call. This fraud method was said to have originated in Japan and has caused millions of dollars in losses globally.

Yesterday social media users were first to report the scam, with hundreds of people using Facebook and Twitter to voice their experiences.

Two Digicel customers told the Jamaica Observer that they had returned the calls from their postpaid numbers, only to hear music when they called. They await their bills to see how much money they have lost.

Others reported on Facebook and Twitter to getting calls in the wee hours of Sunday morning, some calling back and losing their credit.

Digicel, whose customers seemed to have been most affected, said yesterday that it has been blocking some overseas calls from numbers it believes are involved in the scam.

The company also urged customers not to return the calls.

“While we continue to monitor this type of activity coming out of Poland, we advise customers to be on the alert. Do not return these unwanted one-ring calls from unfamiliar country codes that could result in hefty charges,” Digicel said in a post on its Instagram page after a number of customers complained about receiving mystery calls.

In addition, the communications company also advised that if a customer accepts these calls they should hang up quickly, ignore instructions, and not share personal information.

Flow, meanwhile, said the company is aware of the latest phone scam which is typically identified by a single ring which prompts a return call from the unsuspecting customer and results in high charges or usage of credit.

“While no reports have been made to date via our social media platforms or call centre, Flow treats these matters as a priority and we have already activated our fraud team. We are monitoring and will be blocking those numbers which are found to be involved in this scam,” said Kayon Wallace, Director, Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Management.

“We will also work with the relevant authorities and continue, as always, to alert our customers to these scams and the necessary measures to protect themselves.”

The company encouraged customers to be vigilant and treat calls from unfamiliar country codes with due suspicion.

“If you accept a call from an unfamiliar area code, and are unsure, end the call quickly without sharing your personal details or following any instructions that you might receive,” Wallace said.

The purpose of Wangiri calls is to get people to call back the number displayed on the phone screen. People often see the missed call and believe that 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, advertising anything from free prizes to sex services.

In April, New Zealand’s Newshub reported that New Zealanders had been receiving such calls from Chad, Zambia and Poland. In June, Guam also reported similar experiences with phone calls from Tonga, and Johannesburg, South Africa, reported being affected by the calls in March.

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