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Mobile operators warn MPs of Wangiri cyber fraud scam

Cell C, Telkom and Vodacom say that they support the inclusion of offences such as cyber fraud and cyber forgery in the draft Bill because it will put South Africa in a better position to prosecute crimes such as Wangiri fraud.

Picture: freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - Mobile network operators have warned South African lawmakers about a "worldwide phenomenon" known as Wangiri fraud that is costing cellphone users a significant amount of money.

It's a scam in which fraudsters call random phone numbers and then hang up in order to trick subscribers into calling a premium-rated number, for which they are charged exorbitant rates.

Members of Parliament (MPs) were warned about the implications of the scam during public hearings on the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill in Parliament on Thursday.

Cell C, Telkom and Vodacom say that they support the inclusion of offences such as cyber fraud and cyber forgery in the draft Bill because it will put South Africa in a better position to prosecute crimes such as Wangiri fraud.

Cell C’s Jacqueline Fick says: “They can run up a bill of R60, R70, R80, R90 a minute and what these criminals do is to try and keep the victim on the line for as long as possible, thereby generating money for themselves.”

When she was asked by an African National Congress lawmaker about what operators are doing to deal with Wangiri Fraud, Fick explained that spreading awareness and education were extremely important.

Fick says operators are able to block illicit calls once they've identified the phone numbers involved.

The name Wangiri originates from Japan.

It translates to mean "one and cut," which is the modus operandi of fraudsters targeting people around the globe.

In many cases, South African subscribers have been targeted by international numbers.