E-mail alert (fwd)

Bruce J. Nielsen in1000!bnielsen at in1000.in.nrcs.usda.gov
Fri Oct 18 08:00:00 EDT 1996

I am forwarding this message I received yesterday warning about a telephone
scam.  With all of the scare messages floating around the 'net, I can't
tell if this is a real threat or not. 
Bruce Nielsen                bnielsen at in.nrcs.usda.gov
GIS Specialist
USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
6013 Lakeside Blvd.          VOICE (317) 290-3200 ext. 349
Indianapolis, IN 46278       FAX   (317) 290-3225

--Beginning of Message-----------------------------------------------------

  ********** ALERT **** ALERT **** ALERT **** ALERT **********

=========================================================== 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.

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, etc.
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.

--End of Message-----------------------------------------------------------

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