Scam:   Your answering a call from the number 96723345 enables scammers in Pakistan and Peru to clone your cell phone’s SIM card.


FALSE


Examples: [Collected via e-mail, November 2014]


There’s a rumour floating round at the moment on social media that people are receiving phone calls from the number +96723345, and somehow people’s SIM cards are apparently being cloned after answering this call.

I’m fairly sure that this SIM cloning isn’t possible over a simple phone call, but some confirmation would be good.

Thank you!
 


It’s going around on social media that there is ‘Sim cloning’ activity going on from numbers from Pakistan and Peru if this number rings and you answer, +967 233 45 I answered the call and so I’d like to know if there’s any treat to my number/sim and if there’s any credibility to this statement going around and if so, what can be done about it.



 

Origins:   On 13 November 2014, a Facebook user from the United Kingdom posted the above iPhone-captured screenshot with a warning about calls from the number +967 233 45 going out to residents of the United Kingdom with sudden frequency. The warning stated the mysterious calls from 96723345 were made by scam artists in Pakistan and Peru, and folks who were unfortunate enough not to know ahead of

time risked the scammers’ cloning their phone’s SIM cards (presumably to rack up large bills for which the unsuspecting might be on the hook).

The Facebook post did not explain where the assertions about 96723345 calls originated, no actual cases of cloned SIM cards were linked with the warning, and no one has stepped forward to report anything other than unwanted calls from 96723345. However, the post was shared tens of thousands of times, reaching many people after they’d already answered a phone call from the number.

If nothing else, people with cell phones in the UK were indeed plagued by unwanted calls from that number beginning in early November 2014. However, earlier versions of the warnings associated the number 96723345 not with SIM card cloning, but with unauthorized phone charges akin to reports of the one ring scam. Like the later SIM card clone rumor, concerns of unauthorized charges mainly stemmed from secondhand reports:



I was called by this number this Friday and last, found a blog which said its a scam, calls but leave no message, if you call it back it hangs up and you get charges £25!

 


Getting pestered by this number and similar ones. Read on facebook that it is just another scam to make money. Apparently if you answer the call it charges you £1.20 or there abouts. Cant confirm it until I get my bill. Best thing to do is not answer it then block it. Wasters!


Reasons notwithstanding, a number of UK cellular customers became concerned about whether answering calls from that number constituted a risk and whether their SIM cards could be cloned in such a manner. Although some known exploits involving sensitive vulnerabilities are not widely reported so as not to inspire bad actors to utilize them, many aspects of the circulated warning are akin to similar baseless technology scares. For starters, there’s no clear reason why the phone scam would be limited to criminals in Pakistan and Peru, two countries who are alike only in that their names both start with the letter “P.”

Another key weakness of the warning is that if answering a call could truly allow hackers to clone a SIM card, there’s no reason they couldn’t engage such an attack from any phone number on the planet (and would likely do so once any one of their “attack” numbers became publicized) or simply block the number from showing up when they call victims’ phones. If SIM card cloning were truly a large menace associated with answering calls from unrecognized numbers, users everywhere would have to decline any calls from strange or unknown callers.

Ultimately, no reports of SIM cards being cloned following a call received from 96723345 have been confirmed, and even if cloning SIM cards were possible, profitable, and common, the risk would not be attached only to one specific phone number.

Last updated:   20 November 2014