The FBI has an entire White Collar Crime division within its agency for dealing with scam artists, and this law enforcement agency tries to keep the public educated about common frauds on their official federal website. But on Feb. 2 it was the magazine Forbes doing the scam warning alert. And the highly respected financial publication says the scam you need to worry about right now has to do with your phone, but it can impact your pocketbook later.
The "ring and run" also known as the "dial and disconnect" scam hinges on you being just a little bit curious about receiving a phone call from an area code you don't recognize. In one scenario the caller hangs up before you can answer, trying to prompt you to wonder enough about the caller to ring them back. Bada bing, they've got you.
In another calculated scenario the caller waits until you answer, then gives a muffled response that sounds like someone in distress before they disconnect. They are counting on you being concerned enough you try to reach out to the person by calling them back. And what citizen wouldn't be worried about the welfare of the person on the other end of a call like that? But if the area code is one of the following numbers in either scenario you better not return the call: 473, 649, 809, 876 and 284.
That's because in the case of the 473 area code, the most recent area code scam, you are calling an international number, not a domestic one. And that can cost you up to $20 per minute. The 473 area code is used for three islands--Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinque. And since it uses the same country code (#1) as the United States, it has become a tool used by scam artists looking to make a buck.
Area codes 284, 649, 809 and 876 are other international codes used in the past by this type of criminal. But those aren't the only ones, unfortunately, so you really need to refrain from calling back any number that you don't recognize as a legitimate one from your personal or professional life--especially if they don't bother to leave a message that you know pertains to you.
Common frauds the FBI is warning consumers about at this time include advance fee schemes (like those being perpetrated on sweepstakes winners), letter of credit fraud, the Nigerian letter (aka 419 Fraud), and health insurance fraud, which coincides with the new requirement everyone have health insurance.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is also warning consumers about redemption fraud, prime bank note scams, as well as the ponzi schemes, identity thefts, and telemarketing fraud that normally dominates their White Collar Crime division's focus.
Scam warning alerts should not have to come from the FBI in order to get the general American public to sit up and take notice. And when a "ring and run" or "dial and disconnect" phone scam can cost you $20 per minute, you might want to really give some thought as to whether to call back that area code caller's number you don't recognize.