Telephone Scams

Recently the Information Systems guys where I work decided to send out an e-mail warning us about the 809 area code scam. The scam, which generated much noise on the local news shows a few years back, works ostensibly as follows.

The scammers beep the scammee, or leave a voice mail message, telling him to call (809) xxx-xxxx. The message offers big money or says a loved one has been in an accident, etc. Anything to get the scammee to call the number. The number is an offshore pay-to-call number similar to 900 numbers here in the U.S. and the charge is $2,500.00 per minute. The scamme gets a huge charge on his bill. Every account warns of the “nightmare” of getting the matter corrected.

Several aspects of this scam suggest that it is, in fact, an urban legend.

First, no one seems to know what country has authorized the 809 area code. IS listed it as British V.I.(Bahama) (sic). Did the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands combine?

Second, why would any jurisdiction, even in the Caribean, allow a $2,500/minute charge to hear a recorded message?

Third, I have difficulty understanding why the situation would be a “nightmare”. The simple solution is: DON’T PAY IT. Your phone service cannot be interupted due to a failure to pay the pay-to-call portion of a phone bill. The charge did not result from a contract that would stand even the mildest scrutiny, so the scammer can’t sue you to collect it. I am not familiar with consumer protection law in states other than Texas, but in Texas, charging $2,500 for nothing is a criminal offense. It is also possible that your long distance provider could be opening itself up to liability under the federal and state fair debt collection statutes by continuing to list the charge on your bill after having been informed of the nature of the charge.

Most of the above, I will admit, smacks of an argument from personal incredulity, Anybody have any hard info on this?

Check out Google (stars, I’m starting to sound like their freakin’ publicist tonight!)
http://www.google.com/search?q=809+telephone+scam

Found this during the search:

Hope this helps.

From Snopes:

Here’s the other thing: how could this be a profitable scam? Nobody who gets a $2500.00+ charge on their phone bill is going to pay it, not even the very rich. They might be able to get away with it if it were a much smaller fee, but even then anyone who reads their phone bill would realize they’d been scammed. If you were to set up something like this (assuming such a thing were even possible), all you’d get would be a bunch of pissed-off phone subscribers. You wouldn’t make a dime.

No offense but if your information system guys are sending these kinds of emails to you, you’re company is pretty sad.

I spend a good portion of my time educating people NOT to send out this garbage clogging up our email systems.

Real information is good but outdated inaccurate info is just sad.

I mean in this case your employees would believe it safe to do this from other area codes even though 809 has been divided up many times over. Plus 809 is a LEGITIMATE area code for the Dominican Republic

Who posted this thread, and how did I get recorded as the OP? Mods, please look into this! A technical screwup? Not that it’s a bad thread, I just didn’t start it!

It has occurred to me that this must be my younger, smarter brother, who owns the computer. Clues: he has a job, he lives in Texas, he’s good at math (demonstrated in another thread). It had not occurred to me that, since we use the same computer, he couldn’t sign up for his own username. How can we get separate identities?