Fraud typesShort stoppingAnti-fraudCall Validation
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What is Call Short Stopping Fraud

4 min. read

Call short stopping fraud, or short stopping, is not as well-known as other forms of telecom fraud, making it a significant threat to unsuspecting businesses and individuals. It involves abruptly cutting off and hijacking calls instead of transferring them to the termination point, resulting in lost revenue for carriers and unjustified charges for callers.

In this article, you will learn about the mechanisms of short stopping fraud, its industry impact, and measures that can be taken to prevent it.

Understanding the Short Stopping Fraud

Short stopping fraud is a scheme where calls are hijacked before reaching their target destination, usually by a scammer working in collaboration with a rogue carrier somewhere on the call transit path. This fraud involves redirecting calls from expensive destinations to auto-answering machines or call centers. The charges are billed to end customers through other carriers in the routing flow.

After short-stopping the call, scammers use various tactics to keep callers on the line and accumulate charges. These may include false ringtones or fake network announcements such as, "The person you are calling has not responded. Please try again later.” In other cases, scammers play messages such as, "Hello? Hello? I can't hear you. Hold on…" etc. Often, callers remain unaware of the fraud until they receive an exorbitant bill for calls they never dialed.

Short Stopping as a Part of IRSF Wholesale Fraud

Short stopping fraud is closely linked to International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF), a form of wholesale fraud. IRSF fraud involves manipulating international call routing to inflate the costs of calls and generate illicit profits. Short stopping is a subtype of IRSF fraud, allowing fraudsters to redirect calls destined for high-cost destinations to cheap call centers and, by doing so, gain a profit for themselves.

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IRSF short stopping fraud diagram: Redirecting calls to cheaper destinations for illicit profit.

Impact of Short Stopping Fraud

Short stopping has inflicted substantial financial losses on telcos, with the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) estimating a staggering $6.69 billion in 2021 alone. Hackers divert calls to expensive locations, making it difficult to quantify the exact losses attributed to short stopping. However, the significant revenue impact has prompted telcos to prioritize mitigating this risk, with AB Handshake emerging as a potential solution.

Beyond financial implications, short stopping also negatively affects customers with unexpectedly high bills for calls and connection issues, leading to telcos sometimes blocking access to countries with high termination rates and inadvertently inconveniencing legitimate customers.

Why Do Traditional Fraud Management Systems Fail to Detect Short Stopping?

Due to its complexity, traditional Fraud Management Systems (FMS) struggle to detect short stopping.

Firewalls and threshold-based rules prove ineffective in detecting short stopping if the fraudster hijacks a small portion of the traffic. Many operators are unaware of the revenue losses resulting from traffic that never reaches their networks due to hijacking. A recent example demonstrated that a European operator consistently lost 30% of its international traffic from a specific destination due to short stopping.

Test Call Generators (TCGs) are also mainly ineffective due to limited phone number pools, which fraudsters can easily identify and bypass. To combat short stopping effectively, operators need access to accurate real-time call data.

Additionally, traditional methods are insufficient for identifying the revenue losses experienced by terminating operators in short stopping scenarios.

AB Handshake's Solution: Short Stopping Prevention

AB Handshake recognizes the paramount importance for operators to generate revenue from international calls while ensuring robust security and effective traffic monitoring on their networks.

To prevent short stopping fraud with unrivaled accuracy in real time, AB Handshake offers Call Validation to network operators.

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The AB Handshake Solution: Real-time prevention of short stopping fraud through secure call validation.

This solution establishes a direct, secure out-of-band connection that enables real-time validation of call details. Calls are continuously monitored, and if fraudulent activity is detected, they are blocked before reaching the subscriber.

The system provides complete transparency and visibility of the original numbers used to initiate the call. Additionally, it provides unbiased evidence of transit operators responsible for delivering the fraudulent call to the operator's network, facilitating optimized routing decisions like disabling unscrupulous interconnect partners.

The conclusions drawn from the 2023 ITU CxO meeting; the need for a real-time call validation global solution, underscore the importance of AB Handshake's real-time Call Validation as an indispensable tool in the modern telecommunications field. This approach provides a preemptive, widely endorsed response to the growing menace of voice traffic fraud.

Interested to find out more? Read the ITU CxO meeting 2023 communiqué.

Karsten Lereuth, Chairman and Co-Founder of Telebix, a prominent figure in the telecom industry, summarized AB Handshake's significance:

"It's about fair play. By embracing transparency-enhancing tools like AB Handshake, operators can participate in a clean game. This solution allows for establishing virtual direct interconnects even with unfamiliar partners, fostering a community of trusted collaborators. There's simply no reason not to join."

Karsten Lereuth

Chairman and Co-Founder of Telebix

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