Podcast Audio Transcript
Alisha: Hello listeners, this is Alisha; thank you for tuning in to yet another exciting and informative podcast from us at Infosys BPM. Today, we are discussing about international revenue share fraud. And to talk about this, we have here with us, Anand Chandrashaker, Sr. Domain Principal – Digital Transformation Services. Welcome Anand. How are you?
Anand: I’m doing great, Alisha. It’s nice to be back here.
Alisha: Thrilled to have you back with us. Anand, to start off with, could you give an overview of international revenue share fraud?
Anand: Absolutely, Alisha.
In basic terms, International Revenue Share Fraud (or IRSF in short) is a type of telecom fraud where criminals exploit the international revenue sharing agreements between telecommunications companies to generate fraudulent income.
In an IRSF scheme, the fraudster gains access to a company's international long-distance service through hacking, phishing, or social engineering. They then use this access to make many international calls to premium-rate or high-cost destinations, such as remote islands or satellite phones, which generate high termination fees.
Alisha: That must mean quite a bit of money is lost annually. Could you touch upon how much money is lost due to IRSF annually?
Anand: Annually 10 billion dollars in telecom revenue is lost due to IRSF. The calculation of revenue share can be in the range of $1 per call to $0.5 per minute.
Alisha: That’s quite a bit of revenue loss to carriers. In your opinion, why is IRSF difficult to detect and lucrative for attackers?
Anand: That’s an important question, Alisha.
IRSF is a lucrative proposition for attackers due to the low risks involved. Attackers can execute the fraud from a distance. They can remotely redirect the inter-carrier billing to pocket the money from expensive telecom traffic. IRSF can be quite difficult to detect.
Key reasons for why IRSF is difficult to detect include: high volume of calls, increased complexity, changing tactics used by fraudsters, low-value transactions, and the fact that fraudsters collaborate among themselves.
Businesses face an uphill task trying to check IRSF due to sheer complexity of telecom networks with multiple carriers involved. This complexity is the prime reason for the delay in identifying and blocking the called numbers. Since the numbers used in IRSF do not belong to the national numbering plan, detecting them becomes even more difficult.
Alisha: That means fraudsters must be using a good modus operandi. Could you give us an overview of how they operate?
Anand: Sure. Fraudsters share revenue with international premium rate number (IPRN) providers who do business by purchasing and reselling number ranges from carrier aggregators (who are carriers that connect to many other carriers) or directly from local regulators.
IPRN providers sell these numbers along with high termination rates to buyers who plan to use them for content services, such as adult chat lines, tech support, voting, and weather forecasts. Buyers of these numbers then drive traffic to them and get paid directly by the IPRN providers after they take their share of the fees.
Fraudsters artificially generate a high volume of international calls on expensive routes. Fraudsters make calls to what are known as premium rate numbers and take a cut of the revenue generated from these calls. This number has only increased in recent years with the adoption of VoIP and communications APIs that make it easy to place international calls.
Alisha:Anand, thank you for coming to our podcast and shedding light on an important issue today.
Anand: It was a pleasure, Alisha. Looking forward to more.
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