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Telecoms fraud: can you afford to take the risk?

Monday, 01/22/2018

Looking back again through the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) 2015 Global Telecom Fraud Survey, there are some pretty sobering stats and facts in there. For example, global telecom fraud losses were estimated at over $38 billion or around 1.69% of global telecom revenue. And 89% of operators said fraud losses had risen or remained constant within their own companies. Add these figures to the challenging market conditions we’ve seen over the last few years and it’s easy to see why service providers are under pressure and revenues at risk. 



All operators are susceptible to fraud, no matter what their size or where they’re based. Many of the companies we work with say that the main problem in preventing fraud is that its nature is continually changing and its increasingly difficult to identify. Fraudsters are innovative and always looking for new ways to outwit service providers, but most of their scams are based around variants a few basic types of fraud. Before we examine ways of mitigating risk and fighting threats, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common forms of fraudulent activity. 

Common types of fraudulent activity

With Wangiri Fraud, for example, criminals dial thousands of mobile numbers, stop the call after just one ring and hope that as many people as possible try to phone back to a premium rate number. Then there’s International Revenue Share. This involves terminating calls at premium rate international destinations using either a fraudulent SIM at the originating end, or a third party colluder at the end of the call. 


PBX Hacking opens the door to a number of different types of fraud, including making out of office hours calls to premium rate destinations, while Subscriber Identity Theft is popular in countries with high volumes of inbound traffic and poor law enforcement. Bypass Fraud involves routing voice IP traffic away from legitimate wholesale carriers across the public Internet to terminate in a destination where a SIM box with local SIM cards has been set up. There’s also False Answer Supervision, where a call is diverted or hijacked to a different destination and the subscriber billed for a service they didn’t receive.

A data-driven approach

These are just the basic outlines of some common fraud types we see. What makes it difficult to protect against threats like these is the way the models continue to evolve and the subtle changes that camouflage criminal activity. This is where network intelligence and machine learning can now make a huge difference in the fight against fraud. Different types of fraudulent activity display different kinds of characteristics that are reflected in network behaviour. Being able to capture and analyse this information is critical to identifying and preventing crime, and is a task that today’s next generation Session Border Controllers (SBC) are built for.  


Traditionally, SBCs have always been seen as an enabler for voice calls and other communications, as well as optimising network performance and quality of service. However, our clients benefit advanced SBC technology that is also the cornerstone of VoIP fraud protection. These SBCs sit at the heart of the network, are able to capture network data in real-time and alert to any unusual behaviour as soon as it’s detected – which means preventative action can be taken before revenue is lost to fraud. By adopting a proactive, data-driven approach, the companies we work with are able to respond instantly to threats and keep pace with the changing face of fraud.


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