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Originally published: 2014-02-06 10:25:26
Last modified: 2014-02-06 10:26:12

"Ring and Run" telephone scam is back

by Staff Reports

A scam that repeats itself in modified forms every few years is once again spreading throughout the United States.

Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman passed along an article on the new trick criminals are using, simply by calling their victims.

Criminals target people simply by calling them and raising their victims' curiosity. The projected victims receive a call on their phones from area code 473 which rings once and then disconnects, thereby arousing the call-recipient's natural curiosity - "who just called me and from where?"  

Sometimes the caller actually allows the phone to ring long enough for the victim to answer -- after which the caller or the caller's robocaller system makes groaning sounds or otherwise indicates that he or she is in distress and then hangs up, enticing the victim to wonder what is going on and call back.

According to the article, while area code 473 may appear to be domestic, it is not. This area code was created in the late 1990s for the islands of Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique, which, like the United States, use country code 1.

Calls placed to 473 numbers are international calls and can be quite expensive and because the criminals sometimes establish the number, which the victim sees on his or her caller ID as a premium service number, the rate can exceed $20 for the first minute.

The 473 area code is not the only one from which this scam has been perpetrated. Calls coming in from area codes 809, 284, 649 and 876, which are also international, and are known to have been used for similar scams.

The article suggests letting unknown numbers go to voicemail, regardless of the area code from which it originated. If the caller has something important to say, he or she can leave a message identifying him or herself.