Cheats target mobile users

February 23, 2012

Sending junk SMS, call to mint money
You have dealt with junk e-mails but how do you deal with junk calls and texts?
In recent weeks, mobile phone users have been complaining that they were noticing missed calls on their handsets from certain seemingly overseas numbers on a regular basis. Many said they were getting alluring text messages too.
The unsuspecting recipients fall victim to fraudulence when they return the calls. They either face high charges or are asked to pay some money to win a reward or tempted into getting involved in telephone sex.
These numbers usually start with +9609 or +4382 but they do not match any nation’s international dialling code.
Some victims said when they returned a call, they were presented with sexually provocative conversations in Bangla from the other side. Others said they just heard noises.
The frauds also send text messages like “Call me baby at +9609….”, or “We have an important message for you… Call +9609…”, or “Your cheque is ready… Please call +9609… to collect your cheque”.
When googled, it was found that these numbers were also used in making junk calls in other countries. According to some forum posts on the Internet, returning the calls resulted in hefty phone bills.
Tanveer Mohammad, chief technology officer of Grameenphone, said telecom operators were not involved in international calls. He said the international gateways receive and deliver international calls.
The operators were talking to the regulator to solve the problem by blocking the numbers. He, however, said the callers frequently change their numbers.
Interestingly, a Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission official said the commission had received complaints from subscribers and had given the numbers to mobile operators to trace their origins.
Lt Col Md Zakir Hossain, director of the Engineering and Operations Division of BTRC, said his office was working on these junk calls.
An official of Grameenphone said the calls could have been made from neighbouring or South-East Asian countries over voice over internet protocol (VoIP) through using various numbers. When receivers return the calls they may face high charges. The initial call maker could receive a percentage of the charge, the official speculated.
The calls could have originated from Bangladesh too, he said.
Kazi Monirul Kabir, chief communication officer of Grameenphone, said subscribers need to be aware of these junk calls. He said a telecom operator’s responsibility is to receive or deliver international calls to subscribers or end users. The rest is done by interconnection exchanges or international gateways.
Gateways should be monitored, he said.
Mohiuddin Babar, vice-president of communication division of mobile phone operator Robi, said a lot of Robi subscribers have been receiving these types of calls and their office is concerned.
“We are already blocking such numbers and have informed the regulator of the matter. The BTRC also gave us a letter on the issue,” he said.
Zakiul Islam, director legal and regulatory of operator Banglalink, said so far he had not heard anything about the issue.
When this correspondent talked to Citycell, the mobile phone operator said it had not received any such complaints.

-With The Daily Star input

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