It’s amazing the ways that people can find to steal money. The latest scam goes like this:
- Set up the local equivalent of a CLEC in some third-world country.
- Publish exorbitant rates for a block of numbers (say, $5/minute).
- Sign up with a US-based VoIP provider using a freshly-stolen credit-card number.
- Verify that the VoIP provider doesn’t know about your rates, and only charges a small fee to dial the country in question (say, $0.10/minute).
- Have a SIP auto-dialer call your numbers via the VoIP provider until the CC is declined or the account’s balance limit is hit.
- At some point in the future, the VoIP provider will receive a massive bill from their upstream provider, while the Telco in whatever third-world country you’re using will hand you a big check.
This is just a twist on the old “modem dialer” scam, but it’s been costing VoIP providers big money. NuFone has apparently lost $400,000 recently, and other providers are reporting huge fraud rates–according to Teliax, roughly 1⁄3 of their new customer signups are fraudulent.
There’s a long thread following this on Digium’s list server.
It looks like this has helped kill at least one VoIP provider: LiveVoIP has declared bankruptcy, although they had a spotty reputation to start with.