One-ring international robocalls try to get customers to call back, pay inflated fee

Late-night disruptions coming from Lithuania, Sierra Leone

By Mike Holfeld - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Wan Ringu calls, which is Japanese for one ring followed by cutting or dropping the call, are making a comeback on the robocall circuit in several cities from Orlando to New York, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

FCC spokesman Will Wiquist said the agency has received reports of the calls originating from Mauritania and Sierra Leone, as well as other countries.

In Orlando, calls from Lithuania have been happening with regularity at about 2 a.m., according to the FCC.

“The key factors are that they are generally in the middle of the night, from a foreign country and likely just ring once or twice followed often by a few more calls from the same number," Wiquist said. “This is because they do not want people to answer.”

Alex Quilici, CEO of YouMail Inc., has been tracking the one-ring calls through the 10 million customers using the company’s phone-blocking app. 

“The reason they want you to call back is because it’s a 'caller pays' number,” Quilici said. “When you call back, you’re paying for them in a heavily inflated rate.”

The FCC said that, once consumers connect, they are paying a fee for the call as if it were a 900 number.

It appears the number of calls has tripled since 2014, costing consumers around the globe $5 million to $10 million.

“You don’t have to be in France to pretend that they’re from France," Quilici said. “They just have the number in France when you call it back and you’re remitting to them.”

To counter the international interruptions, Quilici has introduced an international spam-blocking feature for Android phones on the free YouMail app. Just go to the app, tap blocking, the settings icon, and then tap international spam protection and it’s good to go.

“The goal of our app is to convince the bad guys your phone number is no good,” Quilici said.

The out of service recording has proven to be effective in stopping repeat calls, according to Quilici.

For more information, visit Youmail.com. To report the unwanted calls to the FCC, click here.

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