It was once the domain of the petty thieves working alone, and often targeting one organisation. The organisations too did not feel the pang and often wrote the losses off as bad debts. On a bad day for the thieves, a few days of community service and a slap on the wrist was all it took to get back to business. On a bad day for the service provider, a few credit notes and discounts to keep the customer happy were all it took.

Regulators were nowhere to be seen.

Welcome to the new world, where criminals work in organised gangs, exploit multiple organisations and cause billions of dollars in lost revenues. Regulators work over time and service providers pounded to protect consumer interests.

Petty thieves were opportunistic individuals who had limited or no knowledge of the systems and processes adopted by organisations. In addition, they had limited knowledge of the thresholds set to flag unusual calling patterns or behaviours. Going full throttle in a short span of time was what got the thieves in trouble.

In contrast, organised criminals are often well educated and have a good understating of the telecoms systems and architecture. They are patient, unlike the petty thief, and carefully build multiple fraudulent identities over a long period. They have detailed fraud system knowledge and continually test the thresholds to exploit the loopholes in the systems. They even go as far as placing and grooming insiders to exploit new fraud systems.

Organised criminals operate below the radar for long periods before coming up with the lethal blow that leaves the service provider profoundly gasping for breath. Often the fraud is brought to light only when a visibly upset customer throws a kitchen sink at the customer services staff down the phone.

Perhaps taking a leaf out of the fraudster’s book, the service providers must come together to share intelligence, use smart fraud detection systems and place strong risk controls to combat organised Telecoms fraud.

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