Community Alert: Beware the “*72” Scam

Ok, so this isn’t on the ridiculous level of your garden-variety Nigerian Free Money Scam.

But it’s definitely something to beware of, so pass this on to your friends & relatives.  Got it from the Chronicle the other day, and here’s the gist of it:

A warning from the California Highway Patrol: If someone calls up claiming to be a CHP officer, phone company employee or even a jail inmate and tells you to hit “star-72″ on your phone, don’t do it – it’s a scam.

Some people learned the hard way when they got huge phone bills for unauthorized calls, authorities said Friday.

The CHP is taking particular umbrage because some scam artists have masqueraded as one of the agency’s own, calling with supposed bad news such as the involvement of a relative or close friend in a crash.

The scammer tells the person to contact another “officer” by dialing star-72 on the keypad, followed by another phone number. But star-72 is a custom feature for call forwarding. When someone punches in star-72, it causes all incoming calls to ring at the other number.

Another person in on the scam is then able to accept collect and third-party calls – and the victim gets stuck with the bill.

There are variations of this scam. Callers have pretended to be inmates who contact people “accidentally” and then say they need help calling relatives because they can make only one call.

Scammers have also pretended to be a phone company technician who needs to check the phone line for problems and tells people to hit star-72 or 72-pound, depending on the service provider, so they can get “remote access.”

Others have pretended to be calling from a pay phone and claim they need help to make an emergency call.

Authorities recommend that anyone who is asked to punch a strange code into the phone hang up and report the call to law enforcement. Those who believe they have fallen victim to the scheme should press star-73 or 73-pound to turn off the call-forwarding feature

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Filed under Community Info, mt. carmel, redwood city

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