One Ring: IRSF Fraud and Robocalls

One ring from a strange number. No message, no text. Your curiosity gets the better of you and you call back only to receive some recording. “You have an ill relative, stay on the line to hear more information.” After a moment of panic and a quick internet search you realize that this is a hoax and think nothing of it until your phone bill arrives. Turns out that minute and a half call you made to West Africa wasn't cheap!

Now a $7 upcharge might not break the bank for your average American consumer, but when repeated en masse, these ‘one ring' scams can be quite lucrative for fraudsters. In fact, this ‘wangiri' scam (Japanese for one ring and cut) has proven so effective that the FCC placed a warning to the American people this week, urging them to ignore unknown numbers. Robocalls are on the rise, you've probably had some strange phone calls, even masked to look like your own. There are plenty of companies in the US trying to prevent robocalling and TeleSign has been helping many to get insights on such international fraud schemes. But this isn't just a consumer problem...


The actual way the fraudster is paid out in the above scheme is through a revenue sharing model. International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF) operates in a similar way. With IRSF, attackers use fraudulent access to a network to artificially inflate traffic to numbers obtained from an International Premium Rate Number (IPRN) Provider. Fraudsters then receive payment (on a revenue share basis with the number provider) for every minute of traffic generated into these numbers. If they enable automation of voice calls to these numbers from an Internet site or application, they can obtain a lot of money in a very short period of time (hours or minutes).

To put it plainly, the fraudster initiates a voice call event that will run through a very expensive network in which he or she has a financial stake. The unsuspecting party (your business) is typically on the hook for all this tomfoolery and charged for all the high toll calls. To top it off, the fraudsters will do this during nights and weekends when human monitoring is low and by the time a business realizes they have been hit, this telco bandit is on to its next victim.

We've written before here and here about why and how hard it is to stop IRSF fraud, but the constant remains that you can use TeleSign Score to stop it.

TeleSign Score

TeleSign Score helps identify and block high-risk phone numbers, phone types (including Premium numbers), countries, prefixes and number ranges–reducing the likelihood and/or significantly limiting the amount of fraud incurred. Assessing a phone number for association with or likelihood of fraud before sending a voice message has been shown to be a particularly effective method for stopping or minimizing IRSF.

Additionally, our database continue to grow and our machine learning algorithm gets stronger every day. The workflow of Score is simple, it looks at a phone number and based on all of the available data, decides whether to let that number through to your platform, flag that number or block it all together. This provides your real users with a seamless user experience and sends those IRSF fraudsters packing to someone else's unprotected platform.

This is merely example of how Score can better protect you. Any time real time data assessments are used, Score can be a tremendous asset. We at TeleSign believe data is a good thing and should be used to keep your business safe from all of those that wish you harm.

Learn more about how TeleSign is using data to solve problems for companies all over the world and how you can be better protected with our mobile identity solutions.

Talk To An Expert

Interested in learning about how TeleSign's identity and engagement solutions can prevent fraud while fostering secure and global growth for your business? Let's chat.