As my Facebook friends know, last night I received a bill from our cellular phone service provider (Rogers) for over $11,000. No foolin'.
I called Rogers right away, and after having been put on hold for 20 minutes, reached a service representative who looked into the bill. He assured me that Rogers had flagged all the calls we hadn't made, and would remove those charges from my bill. I still need to be in touch with the Rogers fraud department to completely clear up the matter. I'm not concerned about the bill, but I do resent the time it takes to straighten this out.
It turns out that all the calls (over 300 of them!) were made over a ten-hour stretch from one specific number in Tampa Florida. And they were all made to Guinea-Bissau (a place I confess I had never heard of until now).
After looking over the bill, I see numerous lengthy calls (10-20 minutes or so) made simultaneously or overlapping each other. Quite clearly the same number and account was being used by several callers at the same time.
My presumption is that some phishing organization is involved (quite possibly the alleged Microsoft Service callers who tell me my Mac has been infected by a Windows-based virus). It seems plausible to me they used this account for ten hours to make these calls via Guinea-Bissau, where there is undoubtedly a relay station to send those calls somewhere else.
I am intrigued by how the operation works, what it is after, and how they managed to make so many simultaneous or overlapping calls from our two numbers.
Here is a screenshot of 6 of the calls made from my phone. Six calls made in under two minutes, each lasting between 13 and 21 minutes. Other calls on the bill were generally in the same time range, but some were shorter and some were longer.
Update: I just received email confirming that we will not be charged for all these calls from Tampa to Guinea-Bissau.