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Beware-Missed Call from International ISD +92 +93 Telephone Numbers Scam | CA Ashutosh Lohani | 18-08-2014

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Many of us must have heard of or fallen to scam that involves getting a missed call from an unknown international number  and if the number is called back, there is an unusual hefty reduction/charge from your mobile balance. In India, the common prefix of these strange numbers generally starts with +90, +92, +93 etc. for example the number could be very much like, +93780872068, +923067759190, +923007503813 etc.

These numbers though look like a normal telephone number of a neighboring country (for example +93 belongs to Afghanistan and +92 to Pakistan) are just a part of scam and intended to lure the target (that could be you as well) to make a revert call at these numbers. These numbers are actually International Premium Rate Numbers (IPRN) and calling at those numbers would cost substantially more than the normal tariff rates. The revenue generated  by these IPRN calls is shared between the telecom operators and IPRIN owners.

International Premium Rate Numbers (IPRN)
IPRN are telephone numbers for telephone calls during which certain services are provided, and for which prices higher than normal are charged. Unlike a normal call, part of the call charge is paid to the service provider, thus enabling businesses to be funded via the calls. While the billing is different, calls are usually routed the same way they are for a toll-free telephone number, being anywhere despite the area code used. These telephone numbers are usually allocated from a national telephone numbering plan in such a way that they are easily distinguished from other numbers.

There are many PRSP who are actively involved in offering IPRNs. One of the website of a PRSP (say XYZ) says,

“XYZ   is a leading company providing International premium rate numbers. We bring you a large number of terminations with wide access. International premium rate numbers enables you to charge end users by calling special numbers. XYZ will give you the best commission on the market for every second you deliver to our international premium rate numbers. XYZ collects all available international terminations and thanks to top high volumes we can offer the highest possible payouts to our reseller.”

Uses of IPRN
Some common use of genuine and legal IPRN are as under:
Live professional advice (eg legal advice, health advice)
Tele-voting
Games and competitions
Live chat rooms

Apart from the above, it can also be used for services that are restricted or declared illegal in some counties. However the IPRNs have been often abused to administer a fraud and scam like we are talking.

How it works?
Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSP) may make arrangements to provide services from small or poor countries, which is aimed at callers in other developed countries. These PRSP negotiate revenue sharing with the local operator and/or the government.  The sharing agreement may include the fact that calls to a specified number ranges are terminated in a location other than that of the country code country. For example a call made to +92 might actually end up not in Pakistan but at some other remote country not to say at premium calling rates. Thus it creates a pseudo premium rate service which is beyond the regulatory controls and consumer protection laws of the country from where the calls originate. Alternatively, the PRSP contracts with the operator that he will route all calls made to a number, say +93 780872068 , without entering the country Afghanistan directly to the PRSP and the operator and PRSP shares the revenue. Note that the prefix of these numbers could be anything like +471, +371 etc.

Other related scams
Kindly note that it is not only the missed call that needs to be taken care of, there are several other ways this racket works, for example;

Through text messages
Text messages that claiming that you have won a prize etc, and require that you to call a number  to claim the prize. Not to say the number happens to be a IPRIN.

Through computer/mobile virus or Trojan programs
A virus can be transmitted to your computers, through email attachments, by visiting unknown links, downloading anything from unknown and unreliable websites. These Trojan program when activated can take control of your modem/cell and if you have an unlocked ISD, dial the premium rate numbers.

international missed call scam - how it works

Now this creates confusion for a person who is having business or personal connections with these countries as the country code appears to be a genuine one.

It is highly advisable that you should not call back at any international missed call unless you are sure about the identity of the caller and recognise the number. Keep your computers, mobile secured by best spyware and updated in real time.

References:
1. https://www.wikipedia.org/
2. https://www.cept.org/

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