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Ireland Cracks Down on Online Scammers

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the don't-call-there-anymore dept.

The Internet 183

bizpile writes "Ireland has decided to take some extreme measures to crack down on one type of online scam. They have decided to suspend direct dialing to 13 countries (mostly South Pacific Islands) in order to halt the use of auto-dialers. The measure, announced by Ireland's Commission for Communications Regulation, came in response to hundreds of consumer complaints about the scams. ComReg acknowledges that its move is extreme but says that previous efforts to raise awareness of the problem failed to significantly diminish complaints. ComReg will keep the block in place for six months, after which it will be reviewed. All direct-dial calls will initially be blocked, although the regulator is also compiling a "white list" of legitimate numbers that consumers have requested to call."

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183 comments

Yea, like we care about Ireland (-1, Troll)

notmatt (632154) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327173)

Yea, like we care about Ireland

Re:Yea, like we care about Ireland (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327178)

you must be new around here.

Re:Yea, like we care about Ireland (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327189)

HAH yuo forgat to psot anoynusly, now i can crack your site OMG!!!!!111

Wow (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327176)

Serves those lazy scammers right

Article text in case of slashdotting (-1, Troll)

zaxios (776027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327180)



I was riding on the Mayflower when I thought I spied some land. I yelled for Captain Arab - I have yuh understand - who came running to the deck, said, "Boys, forget the whale! Look on over yonder, cut the engines, change the sail, haul on the bowline!" We sang that melody like all tough sailors do when they are far away at sea.

"I think I'll call it America," I said as we hit land. I took a deep breath; I fell down, I could not stand. Captain Arab, he started, writing up some deeds: he said, "Let's set up a fort and start buying the place with beads." Just then this cop comes down the street, crazy as a loon, he throw us all in jail for carryin' harpoons.

Ah me I busted out, don't even ask me how. I went to get some help - I walked by a Guernsey cow who directed me down to the Bowery slums where people carried signs around saying, "Ban the bums." I jumped right into line sayin', "I hope that I'm not late," when I realized I hadn't eaten for five days straight.

I went into a restaurant lookin' for the cook - I told them I was the editor of a famous etiquette book. The waitress he was handsome; he wore a powder blue cape. I ordered some suzette, I said, "Could you please make that crepe." Just then the whole kitchen exploded from boilin' fat - food was flying everywhere and I left without my hat.

Now, I didn't mean to be nosy but I went into a bank to get some bail for Arab and all the boys back in the tank. They asked me for some collateral and I pulled down my pants. They threw me in the alley when up comes this girl from France who invited me to her house: I went, but she had a friend who knocked me out and robbed my boots and I was on the street again.

Well, I rapped upon a house with the U.S. flag upon display: I said, "Could you help me out I got some friends down the way." The man says, "Get out of here - I'll tear you limb from limb." I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too." He said, "You're not Him. Get out of here before I break your bones. I ain't your pop." I decided to have him arrested and I went looking for a cop.

I ran right outside and I hopped inside a cab. I went out the other door; this Englishman said, "Fab," as he saw me leap a hot dog stand and a chariot that stood parked across from a building advertising brotherhood. I ran right through the front door, like a hobo sailor does, but it was just a funeral parlor and the man asked me who I was.

I repeated that my friends were all in jail, with a sigh. He gave me his card; he said, "Call me if they die." I shook his hand and said goodbye; ran out to the street when a bowling ball came down the road and knocked me off my feet. A pay phone was ringing - it just about blew my mind when I picked it up and said hello this foot came through the line. Well, by this time I was fed up at tryin' to make a stab, at bringin' back any help for my friends and Captain Arab. I decided to flip a coin, like either heads or tails would let me know if I should go back to ship or back to jail. So I hocked my sailor suit and I got a coin to flip; it came up tails. It rhymed with sails so I made it back to the ship.

Well, I got back and took the parkin' ticket off the mast; I was ripping it to shreds when this coastguard boat went past. They asked me my name and I said, "Captain Kidd." They believed me but they wanted to know what exactly that I did. I said for the Pope of Eruke I was employed. They let me go right away; they were very paranoid.

Well, the last I heard of Arab: he was stuck on a whale that was married to the deputy Sheriff of the jail. But the funniest thing was when I was leavin' the bay: I saw three ships a-sailin', they were all heading my way. I asked the captain what his name was and how come he didn't drive a truck. He said his name was Columbus and I just said, "Good luck."

Does karma burn green?

Re:Article text in case of slashdotting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327250)

Troll? Fucking hell. I like Bob Dylan.

Re:Article text in case of slashdotting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327263)

Mod up - clever parody. Also a troll, but is that really that bad?

Will this ever work (0, Redundant)

ncsg3 (771234) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327181)

Does anyone think this approach will ever work. The spammers will just jump ship - or Ireland in this case - to a new base of spam. The law will then be playing catch up.

Re:Will this ever work (3, Informative)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327209)

Does anyone think this approach will ever work. The spammers will just jump ship - or Ireland in this case - to a new base of spam.

Did you even RTFA? The spammers are using islands in the South Pacific to extract money from phone calls originating in Ireland. Direct-dialling from Ireland to these locations has now been suspended.

Re:Will this ever work (3, Interesting)

REBloomfield (550182) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327210)

Try reading the article. This isn't a spam issue, it's a premium rate dialler issue. If they move operations in a big way, then Ireland can react in the same way. To be honest, I can't imagine the loss of Ireland will make them want to move...

Re:Will this ever work (0, Flamebait)

Celt (125318) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327271)

If America did the same* then they properly would.. :)

*NEVER gona happen

Re:Will this ever work (2, Insightful)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327292)

Insightful ? . Note to Mod: RTFA it's not even about spamming, nor is the scam based in Ireland.

Mod parent down: this is not a spam issue (1)

https (215700) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327310)

It's a phone dialler problem.

Re:Will this ever work (1)

dragonp12 (798787) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327349)

If they quit annoying us Irish people, then I'll be perfectly happy for them to jump ship elsewhere :-P

Re:Will this ever work (3, Funny)

NineteenSixtyNine (775581) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327355)

But thats impossible. Everybody knows there's no way not to annoy the Irish.


Not flamebait or a troll, I'm part Irish and just admitting the truth. Got a problem with that? You're just saying that to annoy me!!!

What's the scam ? (5, Interesting)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327182)

I mean I can see that if it's just to make people pay when there's no need, it'd be a real pain where it hurts, but if it's to try and collect on that money (by setting up a high-cost line then using a virus/trojan to change the settings to dial it), there must be someone making money out of it. Surely it ought to be possible to track down by the payments ?

I suppose the line owner could claim innocence, but they'd have to be damn convincing about it if lots of people suddenly start dialling this high-cost line.

Simon

Re:What's the scam ? (5, Informative)

aug24 (38229) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327215)

Tariffs are paid between phone networks, then call revenues are paid on in the receiving country to the person/entity who owns the line. That person is 'somewhere else', obviously. Chuck a few paper companies in awkward places in the chain and you're stuffed.

The telcos can't ask their opposite numbers for details, and can't refuse to pay for certain numbers either. So blocking them at root is (a) their only option and (b) a jolly good idea because all the poor buggers like my brother (who got caught for 125gbp just the other day - bloody MS insecure ^&*&^%$) would find their net connection refused and realise that they're being done.

Justin.

Re:What's the scam ? (4, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327384)

a jolly good idea because all the poor buggers like my brother (who got caught for 125gbp just the other day - bloody MS insecure ^&*&^%$) would find their net connection refused and realise that they're being done

That's the other good thing about ADSL - I don't have to worry about shit like this. No (traditional) modem, no way it can dial out. Good job too, as in the past I've had to clean a handful of the little buggers off my girlfriend's PC.

Sucks to be caught out by this sort of thing though - hope your brother gets/got the money back.

Re:What's the scam ? (3, Interesting)

aug24 (38229) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327454)

hope your brother gets/got the money back.

Not looking likely... but tell your MS-using UK friends: BT will password protect premium numbers so they can't be used by a dialler.

J.

Re:What's the scam ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327503)

Not exactly password protect, but you can ring 150 and ask for "premium rate number barring". From then on, you just can't ring 09xxxxxxxx numbers until you phone up 150 to remove the bar.

Save yourself a fortune

Re:What's the scam ? (2, Interesting)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327247)

I'm still waiting for a valid criticism of my idea which is to delay payment from the people who supply a phone service (British Telecom in the UK, AT&T etc in the States) to the people who run premium rate numbers for 2 or 3 months, so that there is plenty of time for people to dispute their bills. So if I find I have a 1000 UKP bill to some dodgy little company on some obscure island, and I complain, and there are many other people in the same position, then payment is withheld until the dodgy company can account for itself.

A runner, or fraught with difficulty?

Re:What's the scam ? (4, Interesting)

jobsagoodun (669748) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327274)

They already do delay it. There was a brilliant scam done to BT 10 years ago when premium lines first came out. The scammers got two offices, and put 20 phone lines into one, and 20 premium lines into the other. The bills for the premium lines got paid out (to the scammers) every 30 days, but the phone bills on the out going lines were payable every 90. So the scammers phoned up the premium lines from their outgoing lines & too two months money off BT.

At that point I think BT made the billing cycles the same!

Re:What's the scam ? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327385)

I'm pretty sure it's terrible at supporting Gnutella standards. IIRC, it cannot be an Ultrapeer

No, the billing cycles are still as you described them. I believe they will, however, block a line that is being used to make too many premium rate calls and require an advance payment to reenable it.

Re:What's the scam ? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327422)

Hmm. Pasted the wrong quote there.

I'm sure I pressed Ctrl+C; maybe Firefox doesn't like me.

Re:What's the scam ? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327415)

> They already do delay it.

Clearly the system I described isn't in place, otherwise there wouldn't be a problem!

Re:What's the scam ? (2, Interesting)

igb (28052) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327533)

Actually, the more dramatic scam involved `midnight lines'. Once upon a time, BT (or probably British Telecom, or even the GPO) would sell you a phone line with which you could make unlimited calls between midnight and six in the morning. Combined with a premium rate number you could get very rich. ian

Re:What's the scam ? (2, Insightful)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327279)


You can't *prove* you didn't make the call legitimately.

Re:What's the scam ? (1)

krymsin01 (700838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327414)

What if you were in a coma, hmmm?

Re:What's the scam ? (3, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327432)

Physicians, Judges and Laywers across the world hear this :

Even if I am lying in a coma, I don't want my cronjobs stopped!

Yours of sound mind and body,

Dr, T. Skwid Esq. [dotgeek.org]

Re:What's the scam ? (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327424)

> You can't *prove* you didn't make the call legitimately.

I'm sure you could get an expert witness to demonstrate that dialler software was installed on the ripped-off persons PC without their knowledge, or that the person wasn't in when the calls were made, or that the person who supposedly made the call never said anything.

If you were not the first person to notice the dodgy calls perhaps you'd have a case against your phone company for not blocking calls to the dodgy company in question?

Re:What's the scam ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327340)

You would have to have a clue about telco billing and specifically interconnect billing to understand the issues at hand, the previous poster's point is correct.

Password stealing, anyone? (2, Insightful)

rosbif73 (673259) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327522)

OK, so the current set of scammers are probably just interested in getting money out of the premium phone line. But I assume there's a dialup server on the other end that actually provides internet access, so that people don't notice the scam too quickly.

This means they could also sniff packets to their heart's content, stealing passwords as they go...

Dammit... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327184)

How am I going to pick up my now? [slashdot.org]

How to deal with Spam/Scam (4, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327186)

Lesson One. Be a European regulatory authority!

BT, here in the UK, have been doing some similar actions recently although on a less extreme scale.(One of which is maximum cost control, they refuse to route any call where the cost is higher than the maximum cost for an inland premium-rate call in the UK).

Its good to see regulators and firms acting to protect the more clueless users from themselves, as long as it doesn't prevent people requesting a line be opened.

Re:How to deal with Spam/Scam (2, Informative)

alanxyzzy (666696) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327345)

Here is The Register's [theregister.co.uk] article on BT blocking specific numbers used by premium rate dialler scammers, and here's BT's web page on the subject [bt.com] .

The UK has a body called ICSTIS [icstis.org.uk] which deals with premium rate (but not expensive overseas) tarrifs.

Some other links:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/01/icstis_ann ual_report/ [theregister.co.uk]
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/28/mps_icstis / [theregister.co.uk]

power of boycott (3, Interesting)

tsunamifirestorm (729508) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327191)

What about all those legitimate businesses that are dependent solely on Ireland for their existance? Seriously though, If more countries were like this, it would probably force the governments to crack down on scammers (or at least try to).

Re:power of boycott (1)

Ravadill (589248) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327500)

How many legitimate companies with overpriced premium only phone lines would be on small south pacific islands? Incase for some reason there is, customers can get the number whitelisted anyway.

More awareness would help too. (2, Insightful)

mind21_98 (18647) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327193)

Wouldn't simply ensuring you have adequate virus/spyware protection help? This falls under awareness since people download things that do things totally differently than what they wanted. In extreme cases, you could remove the dialup modem and leave an Ethernet card for Internet access. In any case, blocking direct-dialing does seem too extreme.

Re:More awareness would help too. (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327223)

Fortunately many banks have now finally moved to Internet banking. Many broadband users left their modem installed "because it is required to use telebanking". When a modem is an utterly useless piece of equipment, it should be easier to persuade the user to disconnect or remove it.

So, in parallel with informing the users, it should help to recommend businesses to discontinue all modem dialin services that can be (or have been) moved to Internet.

Re:More awareness would help too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327406)

perhaps removing the modem would help, but in ireland broadband internet access is not available to everyone, leaving dialup as the only option. Im waiting for my phone bill at the moment as we got a dialer somehow, despite having up-to-date virus protection. It seems as though older versions of virus protection dont protect against this.

Re:More awareness would help too. (1)

random_culchie (759439) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327429)

I totally agree with comreg.
The vast majority of these phone calls are intended to rip the customer off.
As an interesting thought, now with direct dialling gone, will you have to use the operator to get all those seedy 3.50 / minute sex lines in the Sunday World newspaper :). Cause that would be interesting to explain to the operator!

Re:More awareness would help too. (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327438)


my cable modem doesn't send/recieve faxes

Re:More awareness would help too. (2, Informative)

Mant (578427) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327421)

Wouldn't simply ensuring you have adequate virus/spyware protection help? This falls under awareness since people download things that do things totally differently than what they wanted.

I know it is traditional not to read the article, but you could at least read the summary.

previous efforts to raise awareness of the problem failed to significantly diminish complaints

They tried rasing awareness. It didn't work. Many, many uses don't have adequate virus/spyware protection, and don't understand about it.

In extreme cases, you could remove the dialup modem and leave an Ethernet card for Internet access.

Unless you the dial up modem is what you use to connect to the internet. The Ethernet card is only going to be any use if you connect through a network, or to a cable/ADSL mode, that uses an Ethernet connection.

White lists (3, Interesting)

hackerm (148340) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327197)

the regulator is also compiling a "white list" of legitimate numbers that consumers have requested to call


So what's going to stop owners of those numbers in foreign countries to send an email requesting that their number is whitelisted?

Re:White lists (1)

RungeKutta (793692) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327211)

So what's going to stop owners of those numbers in foreign countries to send an email requesting that their number is whitelisted?

Nothing, but I'm guessing those will be reviewed by a human and if found to be for fraudulent use, will not be added.

Re:White lists (1)

rpjs (126615) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327477)

And I should imagine the potential scam market in Ireland (pop what 3 million or so?) is so small that it wouldn't be worth the scammers' time to bother. Now if a country the size of the US did it, or even the size of the UK, then they might try to subvert it.

Re:White lists (1)

eoinmadden (769606) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327214)

I imagine ComReg intend to verify the number is legit before adding it to the whitelist.

Re:White lists (1)

eoinmadden (769606) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327255)

From their website[0]: ComReg will "permit direct dial access to specific telephone numbers located within the destinations referred to in the attached Appendix B only at the request of a subscriber and following the network operator having verified that the requested telephone number is a voice only service." 0. http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/publications/ComR eg0499.pdf

Re:White lists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327226)

the regulator is also compiling a "white list" of legitimate numbers that consumers have requested to call

HTH!

Re:White lists (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327435)

So what's going to stop owners of those numbers in foreign countries to send an email requesting that their number is whitelisted?
The fact they're unlikely to subscribers to an Irish telephone company...

Is this the proper way? (1)

p0 (740290) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327221)


I doubt that this will have any impact on those dialers. What was the research done to determine that most of these dialers are infact dialing to South Pacific islands? What about the cases of dialing else where and the cases in which the users have not raised an official complaint to the ISPs? What are the statistics?

The best way, as a starter, would be to educate Joe average how harmful these dialers can be, and instead of going on blocking direct dialing to specific zones, wouldn't it also help much better if the user knew how to recognize, avoid, detect and eliminate such scams?

Re:Is this the proper way? (2, Informative)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327229)

There is zero legitimate usage to the South Seas islands. They have the distinction of being the most expensive places to call on the planet, with the single exception of calling a ship at sea. I used to work with fraud control of a major carrier, and nobody had ever ONCE seen a legitimate call to one of these places (Vanuatu, Niue Island, etc). It's all scams and phone sex.

Re:Is this the proper way? (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327272)

I have relatives in Fiji, and have rung them. I am sure there are people who have relatives in Tahiti or the Cook Islands.

I wonder if diallers "humanise" the modem dialling or it it can be detected by looking at the spacing of the digits... not really worth it I suppose.

IIRC at one stage Mercury 121 (mobile) phones banned the two rather large countries of Pakistan and Nigeria from being called, presumably since that's where all the stolen mobile phones were calling.

Re:Is this the proper way? (2, Informative)

Billy69 (805214) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327307)

It was O2 (and perhaps others as well) who blocked this as there was a fault in the firmware of the most common Philips pay-as-you-go mobile (the one that was handed out free with a student Barclaycard) which meant you could call out for free. So while they fixed the problem by instituting a system at their end, they profiled all their pay-as-you-go calls, and barred calling to the countries bing called for the longest duration.

Re:Is this the proper way? (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327504)

Thanks for clearing up that! It had been puzzling me for a while, and the "stolen mobile" theory was only based on reading the contract and anecdotal evidence. Why is it not surprising that it was Philips? :-)

Some of these islands don't even have a population (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327400)

We are not talking of blocking Fiji here, many of the blocked islands effectively don't even have a population - e.g. Diego Garcia, where the British threw out the entire indigenous population (a few thousand) to make way for a US military base.

Diego Garcia (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327491)

Since Diego Garcia is a US military base, is the phone scam there run by a certain Sargeant Bilko?

Re:Is this the proper way? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327444)

Yeah, New Zealand excepted, of course. But from the rest of the world?

Besides, if you had legit usage it would show up on your bill in previous months, and the computer would score it low.

Re:Is this the proper way? (0, Redundant)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327239)

educate Joe average how harmful these dialers can be

Joe average would never even know that there is a dialer involved. He clicks on [close this popup]. He has no way of knowing that instead of closing the popup, its activated a dialler.

especially after a couple of Guinesses.

Re:Is this the proper way? (3, Interesting)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327317)

Impact on the dialers? Hardly. Cutting into the flow of money to the scammers? Maybe a little bit. Preventing a lot of unfortunate, computer-illiterate irishmen from raking up giant telephone bills? Sure thing.


And as far as I can understand the article, thats what it's all about - not to stop the scammers per se, but to prevent people from falling itno their trap. And as such, this is a Good Thing (tm) as far as I'm concerned.


You could try to educate Joe Avrage (or Ola Dunk, as we call him), but even if you should manage that - and it ain't gonna be easy - it's all in wain when their spouse, stipid kid or geratic grandmother just 'borrows' the PC for a bit and clicks on something they shouldn't have clicked on... back to square one. Blocking whole nations like this may seem extrem, but it works. If you have a legitimate reason to call there, simply call the telco and ask them to put that number on the whitelist.


A simular sceme - allthought user-initiated - are in place in Norway. You can ask that your phone shouldn't be allowed to call abroad, except to numbers you spesifificly designates. Or you can tell TeleNor (the biggest telco in Norway) that your phone isn 't supposed to call abroad, unless you dieal a spesific code first. I had to have a collegue set that one up, since his wife was (still is, despite countless attempts at teaching her) in the habit of clicking 'yes' to everything on screen...

Re:Is this the proper way? (1)

jmmcd (694117) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327328)

actually, they have been trying to educate people about this (i got a mail about it the other day from an isp) but someone's grandmother isn't going to read, understand, or put into effect the advice they give.

and btw: ireland is becoming very totalitarian, partly because the government just doesn't know how else to control us.

Re:Is this the proper way? (2, Insightful)

random_culchie (759439) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327390)

I doubt that this will have any impact on those dialers. What was the research done to determine that most of these dialers are infact dialing to South Pacific islands?

Of course it will. If the dialers can't dial these numbers the custoemr can't get ripped off.

Numerous complaints about these charges to Eircom [eircom.ie] (Our countries defacto telecomunications monopoly) have been ignored. Many customers have been left out of pocket. Thats why the usually toothless ComReg [comreg.ie] has taken action.

The best way, as a starter, would be to educate Joe average how harmful these dialers can be, and instead of going on blocking direct dialing to specific zones, wouldn't it also help much better if the user knew how to recognize, avoid, detect and eliminate such scams?

The people tha have been ripped off are generally not the tech savvy kind. They are not going to listen to this "education" anymore than they listen to traffic laws. Generally people will only care about it after they have been done over. These trojan dialers go to great lengths to conceal their presence.

See also Ireland offline [irelandoffline.com] for more info.

Easier Method (3, Funny)

illuminata (668963) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327236)

I've got a method that'd take care of the offline scammers in Ireland, too.

Declare war on the leprechauns.

You know those little fuckers are the ones up to this. God damn dirty leprechaun tricks...

Crime costs even when it doesn't pay (1)

zaxios (776027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327238)

I think it's sad that to stop scammers Ireland has to deliberately stunt its telecommunications infrastructure. This will help stop the scams themselves and their profitability, but scamming will continue to hurt Ireland.

So what's going to stop owners of those numbers in foreign countries to send an email requesting that their number is whitelisted?

Remember that there's a step between request and approval. Ireland is clearly serious about this.

Re:Crime costs even when it doesn't pay (1)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327282)

Yes because Ireland's economy is closely coupled with that of the South Pacific Islands.

Rather a lot of these "make random uninformed comments" karma whores today.

Re:Crime costs even when it doesn't pay (1)

zaxios (776027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327450)

Yes because Ireland's economy is closely coupled with that of the South Pacific Islands.

Did I say that Ireland's economy would be hurt? No. I said that they were restricting the functionality of their phone network, which they are. I can't say that there are a lot of "make random uninformed replies" to actual comments idiots around because, in fact, your somewhat alone in your stupidity.

karma whores
My karma is already maxed out, moron.

Re:Crime costs even when it doesn't pay (2, Insightful)

https (215700) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327302)

99.9% of calls to these numbers are fraud. Ireland isn't stunting its telephone infrastructure in any meaningful way.

Think of this as cutting off an entire netblock for spamming. Either the guys on the other side do something about it, or their phones just stop ringing.

Re:Crime costs even when it doesn't pay (1, Interesting)

Unipuma (532655) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327316)

I hate to be the devil's advocate in this, but this also raises some privacy issues.

If (for a legitimate reason) you need to call someone on one of those islands, how are you going to whitelist this number? Do you have to register with name and address? Additional information?

You wouldn't be able to make an anonymous call anymore, because even public phones would have to be unblocked.

Of course, there's always the question 'Why would you want to make an anonymous call', but I feel that falls in the same category as 'If you have nothing to hide....'

Re:Crime costs even when it doesn't pay (1)

random_culchie (759439) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327479)

Oh dear....

If you make a call the details are recorded by the phone company anyway!

You wouldn't be able to make an anonymous call anymore, because even public phones would have to be unblocked.

Wrong and irrelevent. Its the numbers that are whitelisted to everyone. You could request the number to be unblocked for a genuine reason. and ,one hopes, comreg will make an intellegent decision to unblock it. It not being a premium 4 /min number would probably be their first criteria. You can then go about your shady activities on a public phone with your handfulls of euro coins.

Of course, there's always the question 'Why would you want to make an anonymous call'

(figures are only for demonstration purposes)

Population of ireland around 4 million.

Amount of phone calls to these tiny islands [fuck all]

amount of genuine calls to these islands [fuck all] /80

amount of genuine calls to these islands that need to be made anonymously [fuck all] /80 /80

So in summary there is not going to be many people affected by this.

Mods: parent doesn't have a clue what he is talking about b4 u mod me flamebait

This is Ireland, and I live here ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327254)

And no one who uses a computer in this country is intelligent enough to actually know what a Dialer is. There are a chosen few who know their way around a box, but unfortunately, most of those *don't* work in PC repair places, so the dialers go unchecked.

This is the right approach for the time being for here. It's not perfect, but it will work.

I also live in Ireland, Eircom not to be praised (3, Informative)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327346)

Those bunch of muppets Eircom deliberately grouped the specific countries in question as "Pacific Islands" (even including one or two west African countries) in a certain tariff band. They then racked up the prices for this band. As it was merely international rate, not a premium rate (we have 15xx regulated premium nos.) people could not have it blocked.

My guess is the business that lost 12,000 and others complained to ComReg (the regulatory authority).

Re:I also live in Ireland, Eircom not to be praise (3, Informative)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327520)

I fixed a few machines with dialers on them for friends and family (I am also in Ireland). Some of them had phone bills of over 600 euros to these countries. I am happy they are doing this. It is a long time coming. I also heard about eircom collecting money to pay fraudsters. I am surprised they were allowed do this. The actual document by the way is here.. http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/publications/ComR eg0499.pdf Here are submissions from the various telcos. http://www.comreg.ie/_fileupload/publications/ComR eg0499a.zip

Re:I also live in Ireland, Eircom not to be praise (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327531)

Argh! I hate replying to myself. Stupid submit button. :/ Here it is formatted.

I fixed a few machines with dialers on them for friends and family (I am also in Ireland). Some of them had phone bills of over 600 euros to these countries. I am happy they are doing this. It is a long time coming.

I also heard about eircom collecting money to pay fraudsters. I am surprised they were allowed do this.

The actual document by the way is here [comreg.ie] (PDF). Here are submissions [comreg.ie] from the various telcos.

Re:This is Ireland, and I live here ... (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327409)

And no one who uses a computer in this country is intelligent enough to actually know what a Dialer is.
Indeed, whereas everyone who uses a computer in other countries has a PhD in computer science.

Lets loose premium rate dialup. (5, Interesting)

pklong (323451) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327262)

Why not just ban all premium rate dial up sites. They are just breeding grounds for porn sites and scams. I've yet to see a legitimate use for them. We could do without them.

If you want to charge for a service get the customer to enter their credit card details / set up an account. If you think they would be unwilling, then that speaks volumes about your business.

Re:Lets loose premium rate dialup. (2, Funny)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327290)


They are just breeding grounds for porn sites

and you call that illegitmate ?

Re:Lets loose premium rate dialup. (1)

pklong (323451) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327351)

Well yes considering these are used to hide your tracks. Its got to be a lot less embarrassing to have 0989 012345678 Premium rate number on your phone bill than Big Tits Adult Entertainment on your bank statement. Specially if your significant other gets to see your bills.

Re:Lets loose premium rate dialup. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327465)

Telcos make way to much money on premium rate services. These services are not going to disappear any time soon.

Re:Lets loose premium rate dialup. (2, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327408)

Why not just ban all premium rate dial up sites. They are just breeding grounds for porn sites and scams. I've yet to see a legitimate use for them. We could do without them.

If you want to charge for a service get the customer to enter their credit card details / set up an account. If you think they would be unwilling, then that speaks volumes about your business.


A telco I use the services of operates a premium-rate dialup in order to change the terminating line of their non-geographic numbers.

Typical charges for using this service are in the range of 30-50 pence, of which the telco probably gets 20-40.

If they wanted to charge 50 pence on a credit card, they would lose over half of that in transaction processing fees. And if somebody tried to pay with a debit card, they'd lose nearly all of it.

For some services, particularly very cheap ones that the purchaser will want to use infrequently, a premium rate phone line is the most effective way of charging.

Per usual (1)

Celt (125318) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327264)

Per usual you can bet that Eircom (Irelands monopolistic telco) had no plans on doing this untill Comreg (Irelands Telco regulator) killed them alittle.

Dam this country sucks so much some times :(

Re:Per usual (1)

breandandalton (673542) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327387)

Well, in this instance, it sucks less than every other country that's doing nothing about the problem.

Re:Per usual (2, Informative)

csgarvey (809231) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327449)

Even worse, eircom (the inucmbent, and almost, but not quite monopolistic), created a new tariff band specifically for these destinations, back in 2002.

Band 13 includes those mentioned in the ComReg directive, and cost a whopping Eur 3.60 per minute (at all times). As a comparison, one reseller charges Eur 1.00 to the same desitnation, and the highest premium rate here is Eur 2.90.

So its reasonably clear that Band 13 was created to generate more profit for eircom, rather than protect their customer's interests. There are unsubstantiated rumours from "insiders" that eircom were making Eur 1m - Eur 1.5m profit a month.

.cg

Pin codes on international/premium rate (5, Interesting)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327284)

Maybe Windows should make it a little more difficult to go altering dial-up settings. How many users would mind a warning message saying "a program is trying to change your dial-up".

Does any spyware/anti-virus software check this (and I don't mean check for a piece of particular spyware, but check the behaviour).

Re:Pin codes on international/premium rate (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327495)

Maybe the spyware would start displaying the following:

"If windows asks about changing dialup settings, remember to click Yes or you won't see [Insert_Celeb_Name] tits."

Its just like the websites for activeX controls, or more recently for Driver downloads.

Never underestimate the gullibility of your userbase.

All of these problems are caused by operating under Admin anyway, because if I remember rightly, you can't change things like this as a normal user.

Fix that issue and the problems will subside.

Re:Pin codes on international/premium rate (1)

VendettaMF (629699) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327508)

How many users would mind a warning message saying "a program is trying to change your dial-up".

About 3 less than will just click "OK" without reading the text, which is in turn 90% more than would have any hope of understanding the text even if they did read it.

Personally I'm in Ireland and opposed to this blocking. This is a case of "The Savvy" preying on "The Clueless-Who-Should-Not-Be-Permitted-Online-Withou t-a-License-Proving-Trained-Ability", and more power to them I say.

Good Idea (3, Insightful)

XeRXeS-TCN (788834) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327297)

It's a fairly good idea, all in all... It's kinda similar in certain respects to the way most firewalls are (or should be) configured; block all, allow selectively.

Clearly no company wants to cut into their profits, so I'm sure they very carefully analysed calls to the blocked areas over the last while, to see how many calls were made out to them. If they were used all the time by customers, they wouldn't consider it feasible to ban the entire selection.

It could be considered to be extreme, but it's certainly not any sort of censorship. They have said that they will compile a "white-list" of numbers in those territories, so if you have a legitimate reason to be calling those places, they are more than happy for you to do so. Again, just like configuring a firewall for the first time, it is a bit of a pain to allow all the things you need to, but you end up with a much more secure system.

License Raj... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327412)

> It could be considered to be extreme, but it's certainly not any sort of censorship.

Ever heard about the License Raj [216.239.57.104] ?. You don't need an outright ban to achieve a certain amount of censorship. You just need enough corrupt administrators to ensure that the system is available only to the equally corrupt (like what happened in India). Depends on how hard it is to get a number whitelisted (soon, we'll have "200 whitelisted numbers for just 20 Grand" ...)

But yeah, this one's probably a good idea ... (and I don't want to waste my moderation on the comments).

Extreme but a step in the right direction (5, Interesting)

CheesyPeteza (814646) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327313)

Atleast its finally showing a government willing to do something about it. You can't just educate people overnight to become IT experts and never get fooled again by some auto dialer. There will always be people who don't understand the system they are using. Education isn't a complete solution, the telephone regulators have to step in and do something. I would actually like to see a ban on the extreme premium rate calls completely (the ones that charge about 1000% the price of the call), but still allow the double the cost ones for TV programmes to make money in their competitions/polls like who wants to be a millionaire etc.

Re:Extreme but a step in the right direction (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327347)

I agree. The fact is that the Internet is populated by an awful lot of people who are completely uneducated regarding the pitfalls. I know at least one person who was a victim of one of these dialers, and Eircom were only too happy to charge her the 60 euros for the price of a single call to Papa New Guinea. Frankly, innocent people were getting scammed out of a lot of money, and it had to stop. Predictably, Eircom, or Eircon as they're commonly known here, seemed happy to let it carry on, and make money out of it themselves.

Alas, the south pacific isn't a particularly well-regulated place. Its not as easy as saying "just send the law enforcement around to whatever business is doing this". I think the ComReg plan is the only practical solution available under the circumstances.

make such scam billing illegal (4, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327335)

So why not pass a law against any "automatic" payments on a telephone bill going outside the country? The end user shouldn't be responsible for this type of fraud at all, and if the telcos had to resolve any such charges themselves rather than making their cut when the end user was hijacked and scammed, you can bet they would be more motivated to clean up the system as well.

Of course, you might still need to block some popular scam countries, if only to protect the citizens from running up not insignificant long distance time charges (and you certainly can't stop the telcos from charging from long distance time, but you can stop them from charging the extra fees that motivate this problem in the first place). If enough countries got around to saying flat out that we know this is a scam and we are going to legally protect our citizens from the "fees" they are being scammed out of, then eventually the problem would go away and there would be no need to block numbers. But as long as the government sides with the crooks and their telco accomplices and allows the telcos to go after the victim in this scam, the problem will not only continue but will grow; this article is the proof of that.

What little, if any, valid charges one incurrs while calling another party by long distance could certainly be covered by other and better means than allowing it to be directly billed to a telephone number (credit card, for example). Enforcing this would be far better than exposing all of your citizens to a scam based on a flawed telco business model and blocking whole countries from your long distance system.

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing this type of billing go away completely, even for calls within a country. But at least there is a good argument that any scammers operating this way inside a country can be caught and taken to court; which is often not the case when they are on the other side of the globe. A few simple changes to the law, such as forcing the telcos to hold any payments for several innitial months to be sure victims have time to complain about scam sites and block those payments, should be adequate to stop hit and run scammers from seting up shop in the country they plan to run their scam in. And, of course, a law should block incoming international long distance telco "special fees", not just outgoing ones.

Duh! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327336)

No I didnt RTFA, but it says they are banning direct dial calls, so if you want to ring someone in one of those countries, ring the International Operator first and ask to be connected. Duh!

Re:Duh! (2, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327395)

If I were implementing this, I'd have a (short) message describing why the call has been blocked, followed by "If you really want to be connected, please dial now."

Re:Duh! (3, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327398)

D'oh!

That should read:

"..., please dial [random 3 digit code] now."

Duh! and Duh, Doh! for you (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327519)

NO! It's the scammers that are taking over your computers that are really doing the dialing. Don't you think they would quickly add a pause and this extra dialing in? There may be ways to beat them (but don't bet on it - many modems do voice and a good hack might even voice-id a challange of numbers to be dialed back), but the far better solution would be to flatly outlaw this flawed telco business model of charginging special premium fees for some numbers, particularly for International calls (where the scammer is much harder to track down).

It all comes down to education. (3, Insightful)

sofakingon (610999) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327362)

It all comes down to education. If the people in general were more suspicious and critical of people, especially online, and new about basic security measures, this kind of thing would happen more rarely.

However, people will not "wake up" to a fact until it (A) impacts a large enough segment for the media to report on it or (B) impacts business enough to have them protect their infrastructure better and/or buy air/press time (see A above)

Government regulation is not the answer. It creates more red tape and toothless laws and raises taxes. Businesses (to include telcos, whether a state or private) should be innovative, not lobby the government to protect a broken system.

Not all education (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327388)

People keep saying that people need to educated, which is true, but even the educated can fall over by this one.
It is very easy for you setting to be modified without knowing. Apparently most of these autodiallers disconnect a current session and reconnect without you realising, unless you have you modem sound turned on (and you might have you modem set up to auto re-dial if you get disconnected, which can be frequent with a crap service like Eircom).
I have seen this actually happen to a friends computer recently, before I heard about this, which I spent ages try to get rid of all the spyware etc off. His dial-up settings had been changed, which fortunately he noticed!
However his problem was that he kept getting virus/spyware alerts (as Norton warns you about TOO much), and a (stupid) friend of his told him to turn off the virus protection. He system was fried with crap as a result.
I agree with a previous statement that windows should alert that setting have been changed. OS X something similar by warning youthe very first time any application is launched.

Anyway, it is very easy for this to happen to you without you realising. Hopefully if you know about these things you will cop on very quickly, but not before you get a nasty phone bill.

Re:Not all education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327509)

reconnect without you realising, unless you have you modem sound turned on

My memory may be deceiving me, but I'm sure I remmber that one of the old Hayes modem AT control codes was for turning off the modem sound; when dialler malware changes the dialup settings, I'd imgine the first thing it does is to turn off the speaker ...

This is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10327405)

They've been blocking phone calls to probably more countries from easten canada now for months. Sucks to be you if you have relatives there.

Germany & Switzerland (3, Informative)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327480)

In Germany dialers must be registered with the respective authorities otherwise it's illegal and the scammers are not entitled to collect anything.

If premium charges are racked up the user must physically type OK into a box before the dialer gets operative. That doesn't help too much if in addition to the dialer a troyan is sneaked into the computer that OK's it in a for the user transparent fashion.

In this case the number was shut down and the scamee mustn't pay.

In Switzerland dialers to premium numbers are outright verboten, since this year. Period.

A small question of freedom... (1)

MrKane (804219) | more than 9 years ago | (#10327523)

Isn't it primarily the responsibility of the end user to monitor their own internet activity/security of their connection? If so, there can be no justification in infinging the rights of millions of others because of a few hundred people who have invested in technology they don't understand/can't manage.

Maybe *I'm* being harsh/simple?
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