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Caribbean calls scam cellphone users

Tue., Feb. 11, 2014

Unknown international numbers slam victims with hefty fees

OLYMPIA – If someone calls your cellphone from a Caribbean island but hangs up before you answer, chances are some friend wasn’t calling to gloat about sipping daiquiris on a beach.

Don’t call back, or you could be out $20 or more, the Washington attorney general’s office warns.

The Consumer Protection Office has received Washington reports of a scam hitting cellphone users around the country that start with calls from Antigua, Barbuda, Jamaica, Grenada or other Caribbean islands.

It’s called the “One Ring Scam” by the Better Business Bureau, and it 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 one of those islands.

The caller hangs up before you answer and doesn’t leave a message. You hit the “call back” button wondering who might be calling from the Caribbean.

You get hit with a $19.95 fee for an international call, and pay as much as $9 a minute while you’re on the line. You may get put on hold while the meter keeps running.

The BBB calls this “cramming.” Automated dialers 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 the charges kick in, often showing up on your monthly phone bill as “premium services.”

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