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80m Calls in 3 Days: The Phone Scammer Lifecycle- Report



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Robocalls continue to plague consumers, but what does the life of a phone scammer look like? Jonathan Nelson, Product Manager in the Reputation Service Unit at Hiya shares a glimpse of the work undertaken by their state of the art unit dedicated to detecting and monitoring spam numbers.

Phone Reputation Service engines constantly evaluate phone number behaviour to sniff out spammers and scammers.

The service runs in real time, observing traffic patterns and collecting reports from users provided directly or via partnerships, as well as from public sources such as the FCC Consumer Complaints database.

In all, a new high-volume scammer coming online is detected within about 15 minutes of their first scam call.

This service runs fairly consistently with approximately 100,000 spammers being tracked within the +1 dialing code (which includes the United States, Canada, and much of the Caribbean). During the five months prior to the holidays, the total active spam number count fluctuated by about 10%.

(The holiday season is excluded from analysis because every year, the spammers and scammers take the holidays off just like the rest of us.)

Within this fluctuation, there is significant turnover within the numbers themselves. On average, approximately 5,000 numbers join the spam list every day, replacing roughly the same amount of phone numbers that have stopped being active.

While there is a consistent amount of phone numbers being used for scam at any one time, the numbers themselves are constantly rotating in and out to help scammers avoid detection.

To get a better grasp on how these scam numbers behave and how long they remain active, let’s take a closer look at 13,000 phone numbers which arrived as new spammers over a three-day period.

The goal is to explore the space of “turn and burn” scam numbers, which do a large and very brief batch of scam activity.

It’s worth repeating: Over 1 in 10 of every new spam number detected is a number that will only exist for, at most, a few days.

In fact, 72 of them aren’t even valid phone numbers. This almost certainly indicates “spoofing”, a scammer who hides their actual phone number in favor of a fake one. Phone numbers in the United States must abide by the rules of the “North American Numbering Plan”, which defines area codes and 10-digit phone numbers for the US, Canada, and over 20 other countries within the Caribbean.

This numbering plan has some special rules such as which digit can be a ‘1’, not to mention which area codes have been assigned. Some scammers don’t bother to check if their pretend number is valid before they start using it.

It is estimated these numbers created over 80 million calls in three days. What were they doing? The best place to look is user reports. Every month, well over half a million reports are received from users who are looking to help inform and protect others receiving the same calls.

The ~1,500 turn-and-burn scammer numbers have together amassed nearly 15,000 comments against them. 92% of these reports arrived within a five-day window around the analyzed segment. Most of these numbers have little to no history before being used for the scam campaign. (User reports go back to early 2010).

To get an overall picture of the complaints, all the comments left against these numbers were fed into a word cloud. (above)

Unfortunately, the one statistic that cannot be measured is how many innocent people fall victim to these scams.

Hopefully, spam blocking services can continue to provide some advance warning and make sure everyone stays suspicious of unexpected threats or unlikely offers.

The best way to bring an end to the influx of scam activity is to make sure it’s not profitable for the scammers.


Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Reps Query Non-Patronage of Nigeria’s Multi-Billion Satellite



Committee on Information Communication Technology of the House of Representatives has been mandated the to investigate the cause of non-patronage of the multibillion Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited.


The committee is also to proffer solutions and report back to the House within four weeks for further legislative action.


The House resolution followed a motion sponsored by Honourable Danasabe Hosea entitled, “Need to Investigate the Non Patronage of the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT)”.


The lawmaker recalled that the Federal Government had contracted Kosmo – 3m Rocket from Russian Plesetsk Spaceport to launch its first Earth Observation Satellite, the Nigeria – 1 on September 17, 2003, at the cost of ₦30 million.


He added that, “Nigcomsat – 1 Communications Satellite was launched in China at the cost of ₦200 million, but it failed in orbit in 2008 after running out of power, owing to an anomaly in its solar array.


The Federal Government he added that, had, since 2003, spent about ₦85 billion on five Satellites which were meant to provide communication data and images for government agencies and the private sector with the aim of saving billions of foreign exchange and generating revenues estimated at $ 20 billion for the country.

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NCC Set To Dump Paper Numbering for Automated Numbering System, Meets Stakeholders



Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday held a consultative forum with a broad spectrum of stakeholders as part of the processes planned towards the introduction of an automated numbering system in Nigeria.


This is Consistent with the commission’s distinctive tradition of broad spectrum consultation prior to taking regulatory decisions.


Speaking during the consultation forum, Ubale Maska, Executive Commissioner Technical Services who represented Prof. Umar Danbatta, the EVC/CEO of NCC informed the participants that, “Numbers are scarce resource and one of the core functions of the Commission is to ensure that this scarce resource is effectively and efficiently managed”.


He also informed the audience that the automated system will be launched very soon by the Commission.


Paul Dinwoke, CEO Molcon Multiconcepts Limited, Consultants to NCC on the project also told the participants that some of the benefits of the automated system include convenience, transparency, efficiency, easy tracking, ability to choose number options, and strengthening of online payment systems.


Bako Wakil, Deputy Director Technical Standards and Network Integrity also told the audience that the deployment of automatic numbering management system is part of NCC’s efforts to automate her business processes within and outside the Commission.


The Forum was attended by many stakeholders, including licensees of the Commission and staff.

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Five Reasons To Stop Wearing Headphones Always



By Ogunfowoke Adeniyi

Headphones are very important because they make work and travel more fun. Therefore, it’s so common today to see people strolling with their headphones.

Despite the seeming advantage (s) of headphones, it should not be constantly plugged in your ears for the following reasons shared by Jumia Travel, the leading online travel agency.


You Can’T Hear Cars Coming At You

It’s much safer to walk around without your headphones. This is because you cannot hear cars coming at you and this can lead to an unavoidable accident. According to research, serious injuries have increased 300% in the last six years for pedestrians wearing headphones. So, make it a rule not to use your headphones on the road.


Headphones Overuse Can Damage Your Ears

Your ears may be damaged if you overuse headphones. So it’s probably best to let them breathe now and then.


You Can’T Hear The People Around You

For people who are headphone addicts, they must have been told several times by a friend that they called out to them and they didn’t respond. Why? Because they had their headphone plugged in. If this is the report you always get, it is time to stop plugging your ears when you are around people.


You Miss The Little Things

After sight, hearing is the most important sense that engages us. If we can see but lack the sound-correlated ambience, we become dissociated. It’s like we are putting our minds on autopilot, and just going through the motions of daily life.


You Risk Coming Off As Rude

Even if you’re the friendliest person around, headphones make you unapproachable. It makes it harder for people to call out to you.

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