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Americans warned to screen Caribbean calls as phone scam escalates

The Consumer Protection Office has received Washington reports of a scam hitting cell phone users around the country involving calls from Grenada, as well as Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, and “other Caribbean islands.”

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), it’s called the “One Ring Scam” and works like this: The phone rings with an unfamiliar number that doesn’t identify the caller but the area code may show it’s from a Caribbean island.

Before the phone is answered, the caller hangs up and doesn’t leave a message. Should the recipient hit the “call back” button to return the call, he or she gets slapped with a US$19.95 fee for an international call, and pays as much as US$9 a minute while on the line.

Additionally, the victim may be put on hold while the meter keeps running and may also be charged a monthly fee for joining some club he/she knows nothing about. By calling the number, the victim “authorizes” the scammers to place a fee on their cell phone bill. 

The BBB refers to this practice as “cramming.” Automated diallers make thousands of calls to random digits or numbers gleaned from public listings or lists they purchase.

Scammers count on some recipients calling back out of curiosity, and then the charges start mounting up, often showing up on the victim’s monthly phone bill as “premium services.”

To avoid being scammed, Allison Dempsey-Hall, a spokeswoman for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, said a good policy is not to answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize and allow them to go to voicemail, where you can screen them.

If they don’t leave a message – the automated diallers in this scam don’t – delete them from your recent calls list and don’t call back, she advised.

Reprinted from caribbean360.

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