EghtesadOnline: In recent weeks mobile phone users in Iran have reported on social media platforms like Twitter that they are receiving unidentified calls from Slovenia, Liberia, Mauritania, Tonga, Vanuatu or Morocco, with the caller not giving them time to answer the phone. The ICT Ministry has issued a warning about answering such calls, branding them as a form of phone fraud.
ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi in a chain of Tweets warned users against answering such calls. He released a video clip in Persian on his account describing how the scam works.
The scam is a form ‘Wangiri’, a Japanese word meaning “one ring and drop” and that is exactly what the scammers do. Users receive a call that cuts off just as the phone rings, leaving a ‘missed call’ notification from an unknown international or unusual number on their display.
Curiosity might goad many to call back the number to see who it was, but doing so can cost the users exorbitant sums of money. The scammers have set up a premium toll number, which charges callers at an exorbitant rate, reportedly up to and sometimes exceeding $8 per minute, according to Financial Tribune.
If users of pre-paid SIMs dial such numbers their credit will be drained in a blink and those who have a post-paid plan should be prepared for a very large bill after calling these scammers.
Security measures against the scam are simple; do not answer calls from unknown international numbers, unless you are waiting for a call from a certain country, in which case it would be better to Google the phone code of that country to identify the source before answering or calling back.
Users who have received calls from such unknown numbers are recommended to block the caller and report the number to the local cybersecurity authority, Iran's Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (Iran CERTCC).
Furthermore, in case of answering a phone call from an unknown number claiming to be from a local department or agency, do not provide the caller with any personal information like ID number, banking details, address, or passport number.
Similar scams have recently been reported in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UAE.
According to a statement put out by the ICT Ministry, the Communication Regulatory Authority is trying to determine which international communication operator the scammers have set up the premium toll numbers with. The statement adds that Iran will cut ties with operators which have provided scammers with services.
By sending warning text messages to subscribers, the Mobile Communication Company of Iran has also cautioned users against the phone scam. According to reports, most Iranian mobile phone users who have received Wangiri calls are subscribers with MCI rather than its rival MTN-Irancell.