Each week, the NTIC Cyber Center highlights a different social engineering scam impacting individuals and communities within the National Capital Region. We encourage everyone to share this information with friends, colleagues, and loved ones to help reduce their risk of becoming a victim of financial fraud and identity theft.
One ring scam calls, also known as Wagiri (Japanese for “one ring and done”), are automated telephone calls – or robocalls – that ring targeted phones only one time before terminating to prevent recipients from answering. These calls are merely designed to generate a “missed call” notification on targeted phones to spark curiosity and bait victims into returning the calls. If victims call the number, they may hear recorded messages designed to keep them on the line or they may connect with a live person who tries to convince them to call back multiple times. Each time a victim initiates a call to the scammer’s number, high connection fees or international rates will be charged to the victim’s phone bill. The scammer then profits from these schemes by receiving all or a portion of the fees charged to the victim.
Incoming one ring scam calls may appear to originate from a number within the United States; however, scammers often spoof caller ID to display international numbers beginning with three-digit codes that resemble US area codes. One recent example is scammers’ use of the area code 222, which, though it resembles a US area code, is actually the country code of the African nation Mauritania. They may also target victims at unusual hours and place multiple calls in quick succession to trick victims into thinking there is an emergency. In similar schemes, the robocalls may leave voicemail messages that try and convince victims to call a specific premium phone number to claim a prize or receive an important notification.
To avoid becoming a victim of the one ring scam, the NTIC Cyber Center provides the following recommendations:
Refrain from returning calls from numbers you do not recognize and avoid answering calls from unknown or unrecognized numbers, if possible.
If you must return missed calls from numbers you do not recognize, check online before you call to see if the area code is located within the United States or if it is an international calling code. Also, perform an online search of the entire phone number to see if there are any reports of its association with scam activity.
If you or your family do not make international calls, contact your mobile service provider and ask them to block international incoming and outgoing calls. This is especially recommended if you share your mobile phone plan with children, teenagers, or senior citizens who may be vulnerable to this type of scam.
If you are a victim of this scam and have been billed as a result, contact your mobile phone provider to resolve the issue. If you are unable to resolve it, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or online at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov. For more information about the one ring phone scam, please download associated the FCC Consumer Guide here.