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Kenyans warned of spike in Wangiri Fraud calls

Kenyans warned of spike in Wangiri Fraud calls

Kenya's Cyber Security & Forensics Association (KCSFA) says Wangiri Fraud - an international phone calls scam that leaves a missed call and subsequently charges a mobile phone user an excessive amount of money for attempting to return the call, has surfaced in the East African country with a marked increase in reported incidents over the past month.

In a blog posted by VoIP-focused software development firm TransNexus, the company explains that Wangiri in Japanese means 'one and cut' – in other words, one ring and a cut-off call.

Michael Felix, Cyber Awareness & Training coordinator at KCSFA said a lack of awareness is placing a large number of locals at risk.

"Many Kenyans tend to return the call. The statistics showing the number of victims are still not yet out, but we will share these as soon as they are released. What we are doing as an Association at the moment is creating a lot of awareness and educating people on this Fraud and telling them what to do in case they get the call. We are using the social platforms, and picking up the issue with the media to reach out to as many people as we can."

The Wangari Fraud is not new to Kenya. The country's Communications Authority (CA) has listed several countries and their respective codes (including +963 (Syria), +41 (Switzerland), +37 (Latvia) and +252 (Somalia)) as prominently used by fraudsters.

In May 2018 Francis Wangusi, Director General of the CA urged citizens to take immediate steps in the event they fall victim to the scam.

"If you happen to be a victim, report the number to your service provider so it is blocked," advised Wangusi in a statement.

KCSFA's Felix does not believe that Kenya is more vulnerable than other African country and said incidents involving the Wangiri Fraud have been reported in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last year.

"I believe everyone is at risk, but the attacks can be targeted to any country at any time, depending on the attacker's interest. Maybe, this time, the fraud is more directed to Kenyans but it may be directed to another nation at a different time."

The KCFSA says while avoiding the temptation to call back is a sure way to avoid the scam - especially for postpaid subscribers, other measures that can be taken include guarding personal information or acquiring a new SIM card after a call – which is a step recommended by MNOs.

Suspension of Cybercrimes Law

In other news related to Kenya's cyber security community, the suspension of 26 contentious sections of the country's Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act is being extended to 1 October 2018 when the court is scheduled to give a ruling on their legality.

The Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) is challenging the legality of the sections of the Act which came into effect at the end of May 2018 and said there is potential for the legislation to infringe on fundamental rights that include the right to privacy, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

The respondent in the case is Kenya's Attorney General.

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