Do not respond to calls from numbers starting with +92, #90 or #09

BSNL has issued a fresh warning to users to not respond to calls from numbers starting with +92; #90 or #09, since if they do they may fall prey to a bout of SIM card cloning. Although still not confirmed, BSNL and intelligence officials have been claiming of susceptibility to SIM card cloning if users happen to respond to missed calls from such numbers, reports The Times of India. The report further added that, "Cloning a SIM card requires physical access to it or the interception of the communication between the caller and his or her cellphone operator's network."

Do not respond to calls from numbers starting with +92; #90 or #09 (Image credit: Getty Images)

In what comes as a rather shocking revelation, the report has stated that so far, this scam has managed to victimize one lakh subscribers. Intelligence agencies, too have reportedly confirmed to the service providers, especially those in the UP West telecom division of an ongoing scam as such. Quoting an intelligence officer, the report adds, "We are sure there must be some more similar combinations that the miscreants are using to clone the handsets, including SIM, and all the information stored in them."

BSNL, however, and as confirmed by the General manager of BSNL, RV Verma, has issued alerts to all broadband subscribers and now they're sending SMS alerts to other subscribers, as well. 

Quoting one of the victims as saying to BSNL at their office in Moradabad, last week, the report adds, "It usually starts with a missed call from a number starting with +92. In case the subscriber takes the call before it is dropped as a missed call then the caller on the other end poses as a call center executive checking the connectivity. The caller then asks the subscriber to press # 09 or # 90 call back on his number to establish that the connectivity to the subscriber was seamless.The moment I redialled the caller number, my account balance lost a sum of money. Thereafter, in the three days that followed every time I got my cell phone recharged, the balance would be reduced to single digits within the next few minutes."

The report further elaborated that although SIM card cloning was possible through a hardware tool, capable of reading and copying information from it, doing so " wirelessly or remotely intercepting information contained within the SIM," is very difficult, though possible. 

There have been instances of subscribers receiving missed calls from numbers starting from +375 and this been on a rise in the recent past. These instances are alarming because if one tries to call back, then they’re charged a whopping $15 - $30 for that call. +375 is an international code, more specifically belonging to Belarus.
Do not respond to calls from this number
Do not respond to calls from this number

Several forums across the Internet have been flooded with worried, duped subscribers venting their frustration at the situation. One such forum, called WhoCallsMe, had several users coming forward with similar complaints. One user said, “I got a call from +375297298451,” with other users voicing similar sentiments. 

Instances of subscribers receiving missed calls from suspicious looking numbers are neither novel, anymore nor are they few in number. Early January, this year, we had reported about several Vodafone subscribers,  especially in Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Uttar Pradesh (East and West)  complaining of receiving missed calls from dubious ISD numbers, like +22455xxxxx. What was even more worrying was that those who tried to call back on these numbers were charged a whopping Rs.45 per minute. Airtel users, too, had complained of a similar incident before this, wherein users complained of receiving missed calls from numbers starting with +92. 

Scores of BSNL subscribers, too complained of receiving missed calls from dubious looking ISD numbers, and on calling back were charged a whopping Rs.50/ minute. The missed calls, especially were from numbers starting with - +263xxxx and +960xxxxx. Users mostly in the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu telecom circles had been facing this issue. 

An advisory on Airtel, asking people to stay alert if they happen to receive missed calls from numbers starting from +375, reads, “We would like to issue a general advisory to caution Indian telecom customers who are being arbitrarily targeted by calls fraudulently claiming the recipient customer as being a Prize/Lottery Winner. In these types of phone frauds, the customer returns a missed call to a +92 or +375 country code and inadvertently reaches a fraudster pretending to be representative of airtel or another Indian mobile operator and informs the customer of having won some lottery/prize money. The fraudster then attempts to trick the customer into divulging sensitive personal information and to pay a commission to receive the winnings. Such commission is usually asked to be paid via an international DTH operator’s recharge vouchers.” (via Tech2)