Communications Authority warns Kenyans on Fraudsters who use international calls to deplete airtime
Communications Authority (CA) Director General, Ezra Chiloba on Friday, May 19 warned Kenyans against the resurgence of the infamous “Wangiri” mobile phone scam.
Chiloba stated that CA, through the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC), received confirmed reports of the return of the notorious scam.
The Wangiri phone scam occurs when scammers call your mobile phone, which rings once, and hang up before you can answer it.
“This type of scam originated in Japan and is popularly known as “one ring and cut” scam – wan means “one” and giri means “hang up” in Japanese,” stated Chiloba in part.
CA had flagged the scheme following reports by users on various platforms including social media, of victims who have fallen prey to the rampant mobile scam.
How Wangiri Works
Wangiri is designed to lure innocent and unsuspecting mobile phone users to return the “urgent” international calls upon which they are unknowingly redirected to premium numbers that drain their credit.
During the calls, users are made to listen to a recorded message so as to keep the caller connected. The longer the caller stays connected, the more money the scammers make.
“In such a case, post-paid subscribers are likely to be unaware because they receive their bills at the end of the month. The pre-paid subscribers can only lose as much as their loaded credit,” added CA.
In Kenya, many of the calls have been reported to be emanating from telephone numbers with the following codes: +51 (Peru), +64 (New Zealand), among others. These telephone numbers are illegally purchased by these scammers from the Dark Web, which is a hidden part of the Internet, known for buying and selling illegal goods and services.
Many Kenyans fell victim to the Wangiri scam in 2020 when the country was witnessing the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Protecting Yourself from Wangiri
CA went on to advise the public to beware and put in place the following preventive measures:
First of all, you should not call back any international number that you don’t recognize.
If you happen to already be a victim, report the number to your service provider so that they can block the numbers. This stops other users from becoming victims.
“Members of the public are advised to contact the National KE-CIRT/CC via the email address email@example.com or through the dedicated hotlines +254-703042700, +254 730-172700 to report an incident or seek advice on cyber security,” added the authority.
Kisasa News further recommends that you use caller identification (ID) applications which display caller information and can be used to block spam phone numbers. Such applications include Truecaller, Showcaller, and Hiya.
About National KE-CIRT/CC
The National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team – Coordination Center (National KE- CIRT/CC) is a multi-agency collaboration framework at the CA and is Kenya’s national trusted point of contact on cyber security matters.
It detects, prevents and responds to various cyber threats targeted at the country on a 24/7 basis, and coordinates response to cyber security matters at the national level in collaboration with relevant actors locally and internationally.