iPhone scam highlights dangers of PRS Fraud

Police have arrested nine people who were part of a global scam, in which mobile service provider O2 lost £1.2m through premium rate service (PRS) fraud.

Date: 1st August 2010
Categories: Technology


PRS fraud is one of the many prevalent fraud types in the telecommunications industry today. As the iPhone scam demonstrated, premium rate services are very simple to establish and can be set up without any direct interaction with the network.

In this instance, the gang illegally obtained mobile phones and contracts, mostly iPhones due to their high resale value, removed the SIM cards and sold off the handsets. The SIMS were then set to call expensive overseas premium rate numbers using an automatic calling device.

These premium rate numbers generated enormous interconnect charges which were paid by the mobile phone networks before contacting the customer for payment. However, when the providers contacted the SIMs registered owners, it was discovered that the owners were victims of identity fraud, leaving the providers with the expense.  One of the worst hit was O2, who lost £1.2 million, just in July.

This scam highlights the importance of being able to detect PRS Fraud with a comprehensive fraud management solution, such as Neural Technologies' Minotaur™ solution. Minotaur™ monitors premium service access, customer behavioural profile, volumes, durations, destinations, etc. (either individually or in combination) as well as incorporating other criteria such as account/billing details, dealer or provider information, or routing to detect PRS abuse.

Minotaur™ would have detected this particular scam very early on by recognising the abnormal, excessive nature of auto dialler calling patterns (i.e. continual calls one after the other).  Threshold combinations set up within the solution would trigger automatic barring at an early stage, ensuring the losses sustained were kept to a minimum.  

For more information on how Minotaur™ can manage PRS Fraud download our whitepaper.

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