Wangiri News from Iran, Kazakhstan, Norway, Poland and Turkey

Some people want to believe that if you warn the public about wangiri they will stop falling for this scam. There is always new material for Commsrisk’s regular updates about wangiri warnings from around the world, proving fraudsters will continue to use this scam until telcos take real action to stop fraudulent calls before they reach customers. This round-up features news since the beginning of the year.


The Tasnim News Agency reported that a new wave of wangiri hit Iranian phone users recently. The numbers used in recent attacks were most commonly associated with Vanuata, Maldives, Madagascar, Botswana, Guinea and Guyana.

The news report incorrectly stated that ‘destination countries’ are responsible for committing these frauds; the reality is that scammers often misroute and short-stop calls so they do not reach their proper destination. One of the best uses of the data shared through the RAG Wangiri Blockchain is to alert telcos when numbers belonging to their customers are being exploited by fraudsters, with the result that there is a loss of inbound traffic and revenues because even legitimate calls have been hijacked.


New Times wrote about widespread fake news that relies on the ubiquity of wangiri to further scare phone users. False rumors are spread on Whatsapp about ISIS dialing phone numbers in Kazakhstan as punishment for the country’s role in tackling Islamist extremism. ISIS supposedly hangs up immediately but will copy all the information from the phone of anyone who dials back. It is not technically possible for anyone to do this; the numbers being linked to ISIS are just those used by ordinary wangiri scammers.


Technology website dobreprogramy likes to run regular stories about wangiri, presumably because they reliably generate traffic. In January they warned their readers in Poland about missed calls that appear to have come from Belarus (+375) and Azerbaijan (+994).


Norwegian consumer website DinSide reported in January about a spate of wangiri calls using +977, the country code for Nepal. Many Norwegian phone numbers also begin with these digits. A Telenor employee told DinSide that 20,000 customers had received wangiri calls over a two-day period, despite Telenor announcing last year the implementation of technology that was supposed to block wangiri calls automatically. This technology failed to block the calls because Telenor had not previously identified any wangiri calls using Nepal’s number range. 3,000 customers were fooled into dialing back, though only 1,200 had their calls connected. No explanation was given for why there was only a 40 percent completion rate when victims returned the calls.


The Tele1 news channel shared the relative good news that victims of wangiri will receive some partial protection in future. Bilgi Teknolojileri ve İletişim Kurumu (BTK), Turkey’s comms regulator, intends to impose a new rule requiring telcos to automatically disconnect expensive calls when they reach a certain cost, although the amount was not specified. Whilst this would cap the potential losses for wangiri victims, it also shows Turkey lacks the ambition to prevent wangiri calls from happening.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.