Fraudsters online, beware before you return a missed call

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New Delhi, Jan 31: If you are a cell addict and have the habit of returning to missed calls, think twice before you do the same next time - this could be the trick of racketeers..

According to reports, when you call back on the number, an international crime cartel that is involved in the lottery scam will rake in the money. The scamsters can also duplicate the SIM cards when one calls back on the number, after which they reprogramme a separate handset with unique electronic serial number of the caller's mobile phone and make calls at the expense of the them. They also access financial transaction details conducted on their mobile phones.

"You don't know how your SIM card is being used. It could even be utilised by international syndicates for criminal activities. Indian telecom operators as well as the government are aware of these issues, but in the absence of stringent information and technology laws, no one can be held responsible if the customer is duped," said Pavan Duggal, senior cyberlaw expert.

When asked about the scam, JS Sarma, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) expressed his ignorance over the issue and said he would look into the matter.

"If consumers have been facing such problems, we will look into them. If such fraud is being committed, we will initiate necessary action. We will also discuss the matter with telecom operators to ensure that consumers are not harrased," said Sarma.

It is also revealed that the target of the fraudsters are basically people from the II-tier and II-tier towns because of their ignorance over the possibility of a SIM card being duplicated by returning a call. They come to know about the scam only after money is withdrawn from their accounts or after they receive huge telephone bills.

The calls originate to Pakistan, West Republic, Czech, West African and African countries, calls are even made from India, said reports.

"It is evident that telecom operators from these countries are hand-in-glove with the syndicates. The operators share revenue, too, with the syndicates. These are premium numbers issued by telecom companies in their respective countries. The calls to these premium numbers cost a bomb. The charge could run up to Rs.100 or Rs.150 per minute or even more," revealed Duggal.

In India, jackpot games cheat customers by charging them Rs 16 to Rs 30 per minute.

"You are kept waiting when calling these premium numbers. The meter starts ticking as soon as you connect to a ringer. A single call can leave you poorer by Rs 100 or even more. In the process, the telecom operator, television channel and programme organiser make a killing by sharing the revenue," said Duggal.

"We will apprise the operators which offer access to these syndicates in other countries of our concerns," said Sarma after investigations.

"No Indian telecom operator has so far brought the issue to the notice of TRAI," he said.

Vodafone had recently issued an advisory to its customers advising them not to call back on short missed call on international numbers

OneIndia News

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