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Scams and schemesPosted Tuesday, March 22, 2011, at 11:25 AM
There are so many different con games, scams and fraudulent emails, mailings, phone calls and Facebook posts that it's really hard to keep track of them all or to keep everyone informed. But I wanted to pass a couple along.
I got an email early this morning from Betsy, a woman who used to work for a non-profit in which I've been active. She was stuck in London, her cash had been stolen, and she needed one of her friends to wire her some money in order to get back to the U.S.
Something about the email just didn't sound like Betsy, and so I googled the phone number she left in the email and discovered that it was a scam. Someone had hacked Betsy's email account. The exact same email, worded the same way, goes out countless times every day from various hacked email accounts. It gets your attention because it seems to be coming from someone you know. I don't know what would happen if you actually dialed the phone number; they'd probably claim to be a friend of Betsy's, say that Betsy was unavailable, but give you the information for wiring her the funds.
Then, a few hours later, I ran across a different scam, outlined at
and also at
In this one, the victim gets a call from someone asking for emergency help and giving a phone number which needs to be called starting with *72. The extra digits may be explained by saying it's a special law enforcement number, or a foreign number, or what have you.
The fact is, *72 isn't part of any phone number; it's the code to turn on call forwarding. The rest of the digits the caller gives the victim are the number to which all the victim's calls will be forwarded until the service has been turned off. The scam artist can then receive collect calls, and the poor victim will get the bill for them.
If this happens to you, and you dial *72, you can turn call-forwarding back off by dialing *73.
There are plenty more scams and schemes out there. Don't hesitate to look up mysterious phone numbers or appeals online before you respond to them.
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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.