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’Wangiri’ phone scam on loose again

According to a press release from telecommunications firm Telenor, a wave of "Wangiri"-type phone fraud swept through the country last weekend, with fraudsters calling Hungarian numbers from distant countries for a period of one ring in order to collect money from victims who return the calls on premium-rate numbers.

On Telenorʼs network only, hundreds of thousands of such calls were registered. The service provider said that it has banned the suspicious numbers in order to prevent damage.

The callers pick numbers independent of service providers, using automated systems, and break the connection after only one ring, prompting unsuspecting victims to call them back.

If the target picks up the phone before the ringing stops while in the European Union, there is no extra fee, the press release notes. However, if they call the number back, scammers employ an extra trick to inflict maximum damage by using a machine that emulates a ringing sound, making the caller believe that his or her call has still not been picked up, and thus prolonging the length of the call.

Another common method is to use a machine emulating the sound of rejection of the call, making the caller pocket their phone, thinking that the connection at the other end has failed.

Telenor says that during the weekend wave alone, "Wangiri" calls were registered coming from 31 different countries, using thousands of foreign numbers. The provider also says that due to its damage control intervention, the ratio of customers who called the numbers back remained at only a few percent, and more than 99% of the calls were shorter than one minute.

The press release suggests contacting suspicious numbers via text message instead of calling back in order to determine whether the call is fraudulent.