In recent years, I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling to far-flung places. So I have some pretty unusual phone numbers in my contact list. Likewise, I’m used to getting calls at all hours of the day or night from different time zones.
But lately, I’ve been getting a rash of calls from Azerbaijan and Georgia. Neither are places I’ve been or plan on going to.
My first thought was that maybe they’re from someone who knows someone who knows me. But they hang up after one or two rings. Just enough to wake me out of a dead sleep but not long enough for me to answer. And they don’t leave messages.
That’s when I thought something’s up. Sure enough, this is a massive, international scam known as “Wangiri,” which comes from Japan where the scam originated years ago and means one-ring-and-cut. (One ring and done.)
Your phone rings once and the call stops. The game is that the scammer hopes you call the number back to see who it was or what it was about. As soon as you do, you’ll hear a recorded message that is intended to keep you on the phone or get you to call back a second time.
For example, the message may say: “Hello … hello? … I’m having trouble hearing you. Hello? … Will you please call back?” Or:“You’ve received a song from someone who loves you. After listening to this song you will find out who sent this song as a gift.”
Every time you call, you will be charged high international rates or other connection fees. The longer you stay on the call, the more you pay. The scammer gets all or part of those fees.
WHAT TO DO
Do not answer calls from numbers you do not recognize. This is good advice in general because it can help protect you from other scams, such as spoofing. (Learn more here.)
If you receive a one-ring call from an unknown number, do not call that number back.
If you have a missed call from an unknown number, don’t call it back. Curiosity will cost you big time here.
Lovely world we live in now…