Many Burundians say they have got missed calls by the following foreign numbers: +22478000546, +22478000542, +22478000556 and +5321647912 from 9 June. They say they lost all their airtime credits when they tried to call back the numbers. The ministry of telecommunication reassures the victims and says the issue is being dealt with.
The Minister of telecommunication, Nestor Bankumukunzi, says the ministry observes foreign number calls from last Friday. He qualifies users of those numbers as thieves who steal people by making missed calls expecting to be called back shortly. “When they called back, all the airtime credit was gone”, he says.
“The criminals used the numbers starting by +224 and other foreign codes. They call Burundian numbers from all telephone companies operating in Burundi”, says Bankumukunzi.
Ndikumana Alexis, a victim, says it was around 3:00 p.m. when he saw a missed call from one of the numbers. He says there was 2, 000 airtime in his cell phone. “When I tried to call back, all my airtime was over”, says Ndikumana.
A lady who spoke on condition of anonymity said she thought it was a call from her brother following a Master’s program in Benin. “I thought it was he who called. I had 2,500 airtime. When I called back, it was all gone”, she said.
Nkuzimana Marc says he got a call from one of the above mentioned numbers on 10 June. “I was driving and there was a traffic jam. I could not receive the call. When I got to my destination, I found one missed call. When I tried to call back the number all my 1,500 airtime was gone”, he says.
Although the ministry of telecommunication tries to calm down the people, they are still complaining about their lost airtime. They wished the telephone companies would give back their airtime.
“The ministry of telecommunication together with the Agency for Telecommunication Control (ARCT) and the telephone companies are doing all it takes to prevent this from happening again. They call on people not to call back any foreign numbers using a beeping system. We assure people not to fear because we are doing everything possible to stop it”, he says.