Thousands of Guyanese over the weekend received strange calls from Russian phone numbers and the Ministry of Public Communications has begun looking into the matter.
Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes told Stabroek News that she was made aware of the issue late yesterday afternoon and has asked for a report from cellular service provider Digicel. She said this is because the report she got was that it was persons on that network who had received the calls.
This newspaper understands that persons on the GTT mobile network also received calls.
The mysterious calls trended on social media yesterday with persons reporting that they had either missed calls from the Russian country code numbers or when they answered the calls, they were disconnected.
Guyana is not the first country to have reported the mass mysterious calls to cellphones.
Across the United States last year, there were a number of reports of what experts have termed the ‘One Ring Scam’. The scam is intended to swindle persons out of money by having them call back the number that called them.
“If you do call back, they’ll transfer the call to another very expensive number. The longer you stay on the call, the more money you’ll be charged; they’ll try to keep you on longer by playing music,” NBC’s KTSM news reported last June.
One technology expert at website Techwelkin.com has listed advice on avoiding being scammed by One Ring Scammers.
“Do not pick (up) any call that is coming from other countries where the phone number remains unrecognised. Give special attention to calls coming from African and erstwhile USSR countries…Don’t take calls from these countries if the number is not saved in your phone book. If you’re really expecting a call from these countries, it is better to first receive the phone number through WhatsApp or SMS or email and save it in your phone book. If you miss such a one ring scam call — do not call back,” the website advises.
“If you’re unsure about the origin of call, you should look up for the country code in Google. The search will tell you the country of origin. Use mobile apps like TrueCaller to identify unknown numbers. Do not pick (up) an unidentified number unless TrueCaller gives you information. Report all the suspicious calls to your phone operator. You can use various call blocking apps to block a particular number. If the spammer is using different numbers, you can also block an entire country code,” it adds.