Protect Yourself and Report the Latest Frauds, Scams, Spams, Fakes, Identify Theft Hacks and Hoaxes
While there is a hoax email circulating about calls coming from area codes 809, 284 and 876, these area codes are the source for a large number of scams.
Scammers in these area can make money two ways:
Consumers are tricked into dialing these international phone numbers, which would result in substantial long-distance charges. That is possible because there a few regions outside the U.S., which includes the Caribbean and Canada, that can be dialed directly without the usual "011" international prefix.
The phone numbers appear to be in the United States, but of course, the same laws don't apply. This makes these areas ideal for scammers who which to target U.S. citizens.
And since these numbers are outside the United States, the U.S. requirement to inform callers in advance of any special rates or fees doesn't apply. Scammers typically trick victims into dialing the numbers by leaving a message that claims that a relative has been injured or arrested, an unpaid account must be settled, or a cash prize can be claimed, etc. When the victim returns the call, they are kept on the line for as long as possible to run up additional charges. The bill for such a call can be substantial (though not nearly as high as $2,400 per minute claimed in the email).
AT&T advises that consumers always check the location of unfamiliar area codes before dialing. This can be done by visiting www.consumer.att.com or simply Googling the area code (e.g., area code 809) and viewing the top result.
AT&T offers the following information and tips:
If you believe that you have been scammed:
You may file a complaint online with the Federal Communications Commission about this and/or related phone scams.
I received today (May 5, 2008) a telephone lottery scam. The caller (non-English accent) stated that they were "Blue Fountain (Largest or Lottery) Company" and that I had won 2.5 Million dollars. They were unable to tell me exactly how I came about winning this sum and gave several possible ways. The caller ID showed "unknown caller". However, to claim this prize I must call-back the call-agents manager for more information at this number: 876-565-1907