Srinagar: Beware if you are one of the thousands of Kashmiris who have received calls from strange foreign numbers, especially those showing Saudi Arabia codes, on your phones in the last few days.

These numbers ring for just a few seconds before hanging up. You’re tempted to call them back, but you shouldn’t—it’s global scam called Wangiri or ‘One Ring Phone Scam’, and falling for it could cost you dearly.

Not just in Kashmir, the phishing scam has been reported in almost every continent of the world, especially since last year.

Wangiri scams originated in Japan. The term itself is Japanese for “one (ring) and cut.” And as the name would imply, it’s a genuinely international scam, with victims distributed across the world. Warnings about the scam have appeared in the U.K., Canadian, Irish, and New Zealand media, among others.

Those who have called the number back reported the call is instantly received suggesting it is programmed automatically. The users says they hear a recording of a call in which a boy seems to be talking to a girl.

Last year the Department of Telecom (DoT), government of India said it was an international phishing scam and people can become victims of some malware attack secretly extracting data from the smartphone.

The DoT even started notifying telecom users about the new call-based phishing scam.

“While receiving an international call, if an Indian number or no number is displayed on your phone, please inform on the DoT toll-free number 1800110420/1963,” read the DoT message send to mobile phone subscribers.

Meanwhile, taking cognizance of it, the Cyber Cell of Jammu and Kashmir police Tuesday sounded an alarm over the ‘one ring phone scam’ urging people of Kashmir not to return missed calls or to respond to the calls from unknown international numbers.

The Cyber wing termed it as “global scam, which has got active for Kashmir also” where scammers give missed calls to people, to irritate them and engage them in long conversations to make huge bucks.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Cyber Police Cell Kashmir, Tahir Ashraf told news agency KNO that a day after scam stepped into Kashmir, they have started taking measures to counter the same.

“We have issued an advisory for the people how to deal with the scam,” he said. The advisory issued by the Cyber wing reads: “If your phone rings once and then stops. If this happens to you and you don’t recognize the number, do not return the call. You may be target of a one ring phone scam.”

The advisory further reads that one ring call may appear to be from the international number. For countering the scam, the advisory states that “don’t answer ore return any calls from number you don’t recognize, report that number as a spam. Before calling unfamiliar number, check to see if the area code is international. Always be cautious, even if a number appears authentic.”

The SSP Cyber Cell said that it is a global scam active across the world where scammers engage people for long durations to make easy money. “Since international calls are costly, the scammers engage people and earn money. By engaging people for long durations over phone, they can access bank accounts and steal the money as well as phone numbers are linked with the banks of the people across Kashmir,” he said.

He said if people counter this issue, they should immediately contact their service providers to ensure that the number is marked as a spam. “People of Kashmir should also follow twitter handle and Facebook account of Cyber Cell J&K police for regular updates about how one ring scam can be countered effectively,” the police officer said.

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About the Author

A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.

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