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Vestiges Of Fear

You've got my number
: Japanese mobile-phone users have a new reason not to call back

TAKE a national addiction to mobile phones, add caller-identification, and stir in natural curiosity. The result? Japan's latest scam, against which NTT, a big phone company, is battling valiantly.

Dubbed wan giri, or "one-ring hang-ups", the scheme targets millions of mobile-phone lovers. Unscrupulous operators make thousands of random calls from normal phone lines, letting the phones ring once before hanging up. They count on inquisitive folk, or those anxious not to miss a single call, ringing back the number shown on their screens. Those who do find themselves listening to advertisements for all sorts of dodgy services.