3. March 2010 09:47
Had a "missed call" recently from an 076 number? It wasn't - it was actually part of a new scam, warns PhonePayPlus, the premium phone number regulator.
A number of people have already fallen victim to the scam, judging by the whocallsme site, which aims to offer reverse lookups to landlines for calls apparently coming from non-geographical numbers.
The tale told by bacon98 at the site is quite typical: "No idea why I've called this number twice but it's not a normal mobile number as I've been charged 42.6p+vat per call & I don't know whose number it is!!!"
The structure of the scam is simple enough: the scammers buy up a range of numbers through a network operator, then use automated systems to make "ghost calls" to a huge range of numbers, never completing the call. You get a "call missed" message, call it back, and the network operator charges you the cost of the call - which, because it's ostensibly to a radiopager, costs very much more than a landline or even mobile call. Under the contract, which it thinks is legitimate (after all, perhaps someone set up a company which needed to call lots of radiopagers in a hurry), the network operator then passes a large cut of the proceeds on to the scammers - who soon after disappear with the loot. Then they pop up again a few weeks or months later running a similar scam ...
More at http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/mar/02/076-number-scam-callback/print