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Int’l calls termination fraud: Stakeholders seek EFCC’s intervention

…Say action undermines security, loss of jobs, tax revenue
…Insist development poses negative trend on investment drive
Stakeholders in the Nigerian telecommunications industry have raised the alarm over the activities of some people in the country who have now taken their fraudulent act to a new dimension by using foreign telephone numbers to call people’s phones locally, pretending to be calling from outside the country.

The stakeholders are therefore seeking the intervention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stem the dangerous trend.

The international calls termination fraud generates what is also called International Revenue Sharing Fraud (IRSF).

International Revenue Sharing Fraud (IRSF) is, without a doubt, both the most damaging and the most prevalent VoIP telecom fraud scenario. Revenue share fraudulent activities are those which abuse carrier interconnect agreements.

The fraudster partners with a local carrier that charges high rates for call termination and agreement to share revenue for any traffic generated by the fraudster. Common destinations for these calls include West African countries, UK mobile numbers and satellite phones.

In most economic frauds, criminals of all sorts use telephony as a tool to defraud consumers and businesses using telephone number with international code. Phone fraud is a huge category, and can cover anything from Nigerian prince-style scams to identity theft to extortion.

According to telecoms experts, such fraudulent activities undermine security, short-change states’ tax revenue business transaction, and if not checked, this development can lead to negative image, loss of confidence and loss of job in the economy.

This is a crafted international crime that has reaped off many people of their hard earned money, crippled businesses and provide unfettered link for internal and cross-border terrorism.

The Daily Times findings revealed that such crimes are corporately perpetrated by international telecoms in connivance with local telecoms operators and the regulators purposely to amass revenue fraudulently and share the revenue across board.

Some citizens have complained grossly on how they have been dubbed by fraudsters who posed as international business partners while some also narrated their ordeals with the nefarious acts of how they were almost defrauded.

One of such numbers was recently used by the fraudsters where they attempted to defraud a prominent Nigerian in Abuja.

The Daily Times findings revealed that international calls termination fraud is the commonest form of fraud in the world today because of the huge revenue involved.

The Daily Times further gathered that revenue share fraudulent activities are those which abuse carrier interconnect agreements. Cooperation is the key to this type of fraud.

The fraudster’s goal is to pair up with a destination that can charge high rates, and then inflate traffic to his numbers at little or no cost to himself. These types of schemes can occur within a country, or across international borders.

Though they may not be technically illegal, they are often also paired with PBX hacking or other forms of fraud that generate illegal and artificial traffic.

IRSF is characterised by large amounts of calls, often with long duration, to a single destination. While it is not difficult to detect IRSF by examining Call Detail Records (CDRs), by the time the CDRs are generated, gathered and analysed, the damage has been done. SIP analytics is a much faster telecom fraud detection method, and it is available in both ClearIP and NexOSS.

Ryan Delgrosso, CTO of Phone Power, said: “IRSF is the most common form of fraud we see. The international carrier that delivers the last mile is obligated for paying the final destination telco.

They charge the carrier that sent them the call, and the cost flows downhill until you get to the access point that was compromised.

Further complicating matters, these schemes always cross international boundaries making pursuing it from a criminal perspective almost impossible. Access or retail service providers usually end up eating the costs.”

Delgross further said: “It is not an easy task to distinguish between legitimate callers and phone fraud. One way is by using phone printing technology to analyse the audio content of a phone call.”

The Pindrop Security estimates that a financial institution taking 50,000 calls per day will lose over $10 million per year to phone fraud losses.

Fraudulent wholesale trunking is a relatively new phenomenon, but one that is growing in popularity and difficult to detect.

In this scenario, the fraudster is actually making money by selling wholesale trunking services, using stolen credentials to terminate the calls.

The key calling signature for this type of fraud is a huge number of apparently random calls. The destinations are not particularly high cost, but neither are they cheap.

This new form of fraud is becoming very alarming by the day in Nigeria as people have continued to cry for help from the government over the increasing rate of this telecom fraud.

They particulary urged the EFCC to beam its searchlight on the sector with the aim of unmasking the brains behind the crime and bringing them to book. The development, according to them, will stem the possible loss of jobs, tax revenues and negative image for the country.

But when The Daily Times contacted the Director of Public Affiars of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Tony Ojobo, on what the commission is doing to curtail such fraud in the industry, he simply said the commission is taking some measures to ensure enforcement of the law guiding the industry in the country.

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