First there were e-mails that were being floated promising to turn us into millionaires and now comes the turn of missed calls from unknown international numbers starting with an international code of +375. Over the last few days, several subscribers have been receiving missed calls from these numbers. Following the spate of calls, a message has been circulating — spreading panic and chaos — asking people not to answer the calls or call back as these calls are the new modus operandi to copy the complete contact and bank details from the victim’s phone.
The message that has been floating around on the BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp and Facebook reads, “Guys, please take this very seriously. People have been receiving calls from a +375 number and disconnecting after a single ring. If you call back, it’s one of those numbers that you will be charged $15-30 and they will copy your contact list within three seconds and if you have your bank or credit card details, they will copy that too. Don’t pick up these calls.”
While many subscribers following the warning messages have stopped answering this number, many of them called back on this number after receiving frequent missed calls. Complaining of the same, a resident of Parel said, “I have been receiving calls from a few +375 numbers and when I answer I can hear obscene conversations between two people in Hindi. It has become very frequent and despite my number being on Do Not Disturb list, I keep getting these calls. I have filed a complaint on Tuesday.”
Others too complained of receiving these calls. Preeti, an HR executive, said, “I have been receiving such calls for the last three days. They mostly occur after midnight. The phone rings twice and then gets disconnected. I had received the warning message, hence, I avoided calling the number.” Vishal Bhatt, an employee at a leading media company said, “I got a call on Saturday and on Tuesday. I then verified that the number belonged to Belarus. When I spoke to Vodafone about the call, they confirmed it was a faulty call. They also told me that it was Rs 15 that had been deducted when I tried returning the call and not $15 as per the warning message.”
Refuting the rumour of scamsters stealing information on the phone, Vijay Mukhi, an IT expert, said, “It is impossible to copy someone’s contacts and bank details from a phone, without hacking into it. It is an old scam under the Priority Payment Number a computer program dials as many series of numbers as possible. There is one ring for giving a missed call. We believe it to be an international number and call back following which the service provider charges the caller for making an international call. The money thus charged is then paid to the company owning the number by the service provider. A portion of this money is then paid to the scammer by the company. So, the only advice is to never call back.”