809 phone scam
Michael Holmes (MHolmes@PITNET.NET)
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 03:24:45 -0600
I received this from a friend, so I can't comment on its accuracy. If
true, however, it's good to beware of:
SCAM: Don't Respond To Emails, Phone Calls, Or Pages Which Tell You To
Call An "809" Phone Number
This is a very important issue of Internet ScamBusters! because it alerts
you to a scam that is: - spreading *extremely* quickly - can easily cost
you $100 or more, and - is difficult to avoid unless you are aware of it.
This scam has also been identified by the National Fraud Information Center and
is costing victims a lot of money.
There are lots of different permutations of this scam, but here is how it works:
Permutation #1: Internet Based Phone Scam Via Email You receive an email,
typically with a subject line of "*ALERT*" or "Unpaid account." The
message, which is being spammed across the net, says:
------ I am writing to give you a final 24hrs to settle your
outstanding account. If I have not received the settlement in full,
I will commence legal proceedings without further delay. If you
would like to discuss this matter to avoid court action, call Mike
Murray at Global Communications on +1 809 496 2700. ------
Permutation #2: Phone Or Pager Scam You receive a message on your answering
machine or your pager which asks you to call a number beginning with area
code 809. The reason to you're asked to call varies: it can be to receive
information about a family member who has been ill, to tell you someone
has been arrested, died, to let you know you have won a wonderful prize,
In each case, you're told to call the 809 number right away. Since there
are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these
calls. If you call from the US, you will apparently be charged $25
per-minute! Sometimes the person who answers the phone will speak broken
English and pretend not to understand you. Other times, you'll just get a
long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone
as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get
your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $100.00.
Here's why it works: The 809 area code is located in the British Virgin
Islands (the Bahamas). The 809 area code can be used as a "pay-per-call"
number, similar to 900 numbers in the US. Since 809 is not in the US,it is
not covered by US regulations of 900 numbers,which require that you be
notified and warned of charges and rates involved when you call a
"pay-per-call" number. There is also no requirement that the company
provide a time period during which you may terminate the call without
being charged. Further, whereas many US phones have 900 number blocking
(to avoid these kinds of charges), 900 number blocking will not prevent
calls to the 809 area code.
We recommend that no matter how you get the message, if you are asked to
call a number with an 809 area code that you don't recognize, investigate
further and/or disregard the message. Be *very* wary of email or calls
asking you to call an 809 area code number.
It's important to prevent becoming a victim of this scam, since trying to
fight the charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That's because
you did actually make the call. If you complain, both our local phone
company and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and
will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for
the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company that
argues they have done nothing wrong.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City