The Top 10 Telecoms Fraud of 2024

Top 10 Frauds

Understanding the Examples of Fraud

The world of telecom fraud is vast, varied, and, frankly, a bit overwhelming. When we talk about examples of fraud, it’s not just about someone trying to bypass the system. 

It’s about sophisticated, often hard-to-detect activities that hit telecom operators where it hurts – their revenue and reputation.

The Financial Impact: More Than Just Percentages

In 2024, telecom fraud isn’t just a topic for boardroom discussions – it’s a real, tangible problem. 

Operators are seeing up to 3% of their revenue slipping through their fingers due to these fraudulent activities. 

To put it in perspective, for a company bringing in millions, this is not pocket change; it’s significant financial hemorrhage.

It’s not just about money. The impact on a telecom operator’s reputation can be even more damaging.

At Xintec, we work in partnership with our customers to not only prevent fraud attacks but to protect and enhance their financial integrity. We take the work out of fraud and RA management and let our customers get on with serving their customers.

Top 10 Frauds to watch in 2024

1. International Revenue Sharing Fraud (IRSF)

IRSF is one of the most financially damaging frauds for telecom operators. Fraudsters generate calls to premium-rate numbers they control, often in different countries, leading to revenue loss for the operator. 

What makes IRSF particularly challenging is the use of sophisticated methods to mask these activities, often requiring advanced analytical tools for detection.

A surprising thing about such financial frauds cases is that they are not just carried out by individuals; even organized crime groups have been involved in IRSF.

Example: The Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme stands as a monument to IRSF. Madoff lured investors with promises of high returns, funneling their money into a web of lies instead of actual investments. This elaborate scheme netted him an estimated $64.8 billion, making it one of the largest financial frauds in history.

2. Wangiri Fraud

The term ‘Wangiri’ – meaning “one ring and cut” in Japanese – aptly describes this scam. Fraudsters make short, unanswered calls to international numbers, prompting the recipients to call back, incurring high charges. 

That is also one of the biggest frauds in history and has been around for decades, it continues to evolve and affect telecom operators worldwide. 

In 2021, Wangiri fraud was responsible for an estimated loss of $100 million globally. This scam has evolved with technology, now using AI to target numbers more effectively.

Example: Caribbean Fix (2014). This operation bombarded US mobile phones with one-ring calls from Caribbean islands. The short rings triggered callback attempts, generating millions for the scammers and frustration for victims.

3. Telecom Arbitrage Fraud

Arbitrage fraud occurs when fraudsters exploit differences in telecom rates between countries or regions. 

How does it work? Fraudsters set up fake businesses to take advantage of lower rates and bypass the higher charges in their own countries, leading to significant revenue loss for operators.

The question is why telecom arbitrage fraud is considered the worst scams ever? 

Because it often involves large amounts of money, and many times, these activities go undetected for a long time.

Example: In 2020, a US court exposed a massive telecom arbitrage scam involving Caribbean and US phone numbers. The perpetrators exploited differences in call termination rates, racking up millions in fraudulent profits before being caught.

4. Interconnect Bypass (Sim Box) Fraud

This involves redirecting international calls through local SIM boxes, avoiding international rates and costing operators significant revenue. 

The famous fraudsters of such big fraud cases often use these SIM boxes to look like regular local calls, making it hard for operators to detect. 

This is a classic example of how criminals can exploit weaknesses in the system for financial gain.

The proliferation of VoIP technology has made this type of fraud more prevalent and harder to detect, as it often mimics regular customer behavior.

Example: In 2016, a Nigerian network provider, MTN, faced hefty fines for enabling Sim Box fraud. These illegal devices bypass traditional telecom networks, allowing calls to be routed through cheaper channels, defrauding both operators and governments of revenue.

5. PBX Hacking

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems are targeted by hackers to make long-distance calls at the expense of the business. 

They do this by gaining access to the PBX system or by installing malware. 

Such big fraud cases are a perfect example of how hackers can use technology to their advantage. It also highlights the importance of strong cybersecurity measures for businesses.

Example: In 2023, the Marriott Hotel group experienced a PBX hacking attack that resulted in over $28 million in losses and affected over 500,000 customers.

6. Traffic Pumping

Traffic pumping, also known as access stimulation, involves artificially inflating traffic to certain numbers to benefit from higher interconnection fees. 

This practice has become more sophisticated, often requiring deep data analysis to identify unusual patterns.

Example: In 2011, a group of Chinese citizens was accused of inflating website traffic through automated bots. This “click fraud” scheme aimed to deceive advertisers and generate fraudulent revenue for the perpetrators.

7. Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud in telecoms involves making false representations to obtain devices or services, with no intention of paying for them. 

This type of fraud has seen a rise with the increase in online transactions, where verifying customer authenticity is more challenging.

Example: The Wirecard scandal of 2020 involved a German fintech company fabricating bank statements and inflating revenues to attract investors. This credit card fraud scheme ultimately led to the company’s collapse and massive financial losses.

8. Subscription Fraud

This is where fraudsters use false identities to gain access to services. 

With the growth of digital identity theft, this form of fraud is becoming more common and more sophisticated, necessitating robust identity verification processes.

Example:  The HBO Hack (2015). Hackers breached HBO servers and stole episode scripts, user data, and payment information. Hackers then used this information to create fake accounts and resell subscriptions at a fraction of the cost.

9. Account Takeover

In account takeover fraud, fraudsters gain unauthorized access to a customer’s account and make unauthorized changes or purchases. 

This not only leads to revenue loss but also significantly impacts customer trust.

Example: In 2017, Equifax, a major credit bureau in the United States, suffered a data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of Americans.

Hackers stole names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and other sensitive data, which they then used to launch ATO attacks against Equifax customers. The breach led to billions of dollars in losses and highlighted the dangers of storing personal information online.

10. Smishing/SMS Phishing

Smishing involves sending fraudulent SMS messages to trick individuals into revealing personal information or making payments. 

The rise of mobile banking and transactions has made this type of fraud increasingly common and dangerous.

Example: COVID-19 Chaos (2020-2021). Capitalizing on pandemic anxieties, scammers sent smishing texts offering fake government benefits, vaccine appointments, or virus test kits. These messages often contained phishing links or malware-laden attachments, putting sensitive information and health at risk.

To summarise, in today’s world, the biggest scammers of all time aren’t just out for the money – they’re also after your trust. Those big fraud cases that we often hear about are not just numbers; they represent the damage fraud can do to a company’s reputation and customer loyalty.

Xintec: How we protect customers from risk

In the battle against fraud, each moment counts. That’s why our iGenuity™ platform is designed for rapid deployment. We know that our customers, especially those who might be smaller operators or those new to advanced revenue assurance tools, can’t afford to wait.

  • Fast Deployment: Our solutions are not only powerful but also quick to implement. This means less downtime for your operations and a faster route to safeguarding your revenues.
  • Immediate Impact: With our rapid implementation, you’ll see the benefits of our system almost immediately. .
Discover How Our Expertise Can Make A Difference.

Managed Services: Expertise at Your Fingertips

We believe in not just selling a product but in partnering for success. Our managed services model means that you’re not just getting software; you’re gaining access to a team of seasoned professionals.

  • Outsourcing Expertise: For many of our clients, especially those with limited in-house capabilities for managing complex telecom frauds, our managed services are a game-changer. 

We take over the heavy lifting, allowing you to focus on your core business.

  • Tailored Solutions: Every telecom operator is unique, and so are their challenges. Our service level agreements are not one-size-fits-all but are customized to meet your specific needs and challenges.
  • Modular Design: Our platform’s modular nature means you can choose what you need when you need it. This ‘build as you grow’ approach is particularly beneficial for smaller operators or those expanding their services.
  • Customization: Your challenges are unique, and so should be your solutions. iGenuity™ allows for customization to fit your specific operational needs and challenges.
  • AI and ML Integration: Our platform’s integration of AI and ML means you’re not just reacting to frauds; you’re predicting and preventing them.

Constant Innovation: The telecom industry is ever-evolving, and so is our commitment to innovation. We continually update and refine our technologies to ensure you’re always equipped with the best.


When we look at the world of telecom and all the examples of fraud, it’s like a never-ending game of cat and mouse. 

We’ve seen some of the biggest frauds in history happen right in this industry. These financial frauds cases aren’t just about losing money; they’re about really clever people finding ways to trick the system. 

It’s shocking to think about the worst scams ever and realize that they actually happened. These big fraud cases are a big wake-up call. They remind us that we always need to be on our toes, ready to spot and stop these sneaky tricks. 

It’s all about staying one step ahead of the fraudsters and making sure we don’t let them pull a fast one on us.

Sean Killeen - Business Dev
About Author
I bring over 25 years of experience in the telecoms industry, having worked with several leading companies across Europe, like Western Wireless International, EDS Germany, and Billing Services Group USA. My journey has been centered around strategy and sales, with a strong passion for technology and innovation. I take pride in my expertise in entrepreneurship and my commitment to values-based selling. Beyond the corporate realm, I enjoy public speaking, developing talent, and leading with a focus on nurturing and guiding future leaders.