Commonwealth Journal

February 7, 2014

Telephone scam warning issued

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

 
If you’re getting phone calls from unknown numbers, you may want to think again before calling back. 
The Better Business Bureau and the Kentucky State Police have been warning people in Kentucky about the “The One-Ring Scam.”  
The rash of reports of people receiving calls from unknown numbers began within the past two weeks, and those affected include Pulaski County residents.
“I have had four (phone calls),” said Nancy Whitis, a paramedic with Somerset-Pulaski County EMS. “Three from Antigua and one from Jamaica. They come about every two to three days and the number is always different.”
In many of the situations, people will receive a phone call from the unknown number, only for the call to end within one or two rings. Those behind the scam operate on the idea that the more curious people will call the number back to see the reason behind that call.
That’s when the individuals are slapped with a high out-of-country call fee. 
“A computer program originating outside the U.S. dials American customers and lets the phone ring one or two times before hanging up,” said KSP spokesperson Sgt. Michael Webb. “This is enough time
to register on a phone’s missed-calls screen, but typically not enough time for a user to actually answer.”
Webb said people who return the calls are charged around $20 for the initial call and $9 for every additional minute. 
Whitis, not recognizing the area codes, opted not to call the numbers back. And she’s taken to blocking the numbers each time she receives them in an attempt to stop the calls. 
BBB experts are calling this “phone cramming,” when automated dialers send out thousands of calls to random numbers. Most of the area codes are from the Caribbean Islands, but BBB said there is no way to really know where the calls are coming from.
Webb advised citizens to refrain from returning calls they do not recognize.
“We are encouraging people to review their cell phone statements and contact their cellular carrier immediately if they notice unauthorized charges,” said Webb.
The following area codes provided to KSP by the BBB are apparently connected with the scam:
• Dominican Republic - 809
• Jamaica - 876
• British Virgin Islands - 284
• Grenada - 473
• Aruba - 297
• Antigua - 268