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US group warns of phone scam from the Caribbean

Saturday, February 15, 2014 | 9:27 AM    

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WASHINGTON (CMC) -- The United States Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning cell phone users about a “one ring” phone scam from the Caribbean.

The BBB said that the scheme adds unauthorised charges to consumers' monthly wireless bills. It has labelled the unauthorised charges as “one ring” scam because the victims’ phones often ring only once before the call is disconnected.

If a victim tries to return the call, they are charged a US$19.95 international call fee plus US$9 a minute for the duration of the call, the BBB said, adding that the calls appear to come from a number of Caribbean islands, including Grenada, Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and the British Virgin Islands.

The BBB said area codes for the calls include 268, 274, 473, 809 and 876. It also said some calls may be domestic.

“Scammers are counting on people’s curiosity, getting the best of them and hoping they’ll dial these numbers back, which are international calls that can lead to hefty charges. The best policy is to ignore calls from strange numbers and disregard the temptation to dial them back,” the BBB said.

President and chief executive officer of BBB, Dana Badgerow, said “this scheme definitely plays on our natural curiosity.

“However, in this case, simple curiosity can get you into some trouble,” she said.

The BBB said calls of this nature have hit nationwide, adding that, in most cases, the calls hang up before people can even answer. In instances when the phone is answered, the receiver hears “moaning or a commotion of some kind and then the call disconnects.

“In either case, these calls leave their information on your caller ID. Some people, believing the call is domestic, dial the number back. Reports indicate those calls are then routed to international adult entertainment or chat lines where charges can accumulate rapidly, it added. It is unclear how the perpetrators benefit from the calls.

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