General — 24 March 2016 — by Adele Ramos
“One ring” cell phone scam – beware, Belizeans!

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Mar. 21, 2016–Smart and Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) have issued alerts, warning customers not to be duped by calls coming from a foreign number with the +8-818 prefix. The phone companies say that it is a credit scam being perpetrated on unsuspecting customers; and if customers answer a missed call from this number, their phone credit is wiped out.

The US Federal Trade Commission, in warning against such scams, explains that, “Scammers let the phone ring once — just enough for a missed call message to pop up.

“The scammers hope you’ll call back, either because you believe a legitimate call was cut off, or you will be curious about who called. If you do, chances are you’ll hear something like, ‘Hello. You’ve reached the operator, please hold.’

“All the while, you’re getting slammed with some hefty charges — a per-minute charge on top of an international rate.”

On Friday, March 18, Digicell issued a scam alert, asking customers to beware of calls from the number 8-818-481-0157. Customers of both Smart and BTL have reported receiving missed calls from this number.

“Scams like this show up as missed calls and deplete your credit if you call back. Be on the lookout and don’t be fooled. The necessary steps have been taken to block these calls,” the service provider said.

In a Facebook notice released this afternoon, Smart advises customers to “be aware of a credit scam being perpetrated by foreign sources utilizing the number +8-818-481-0157.”

It added that, “Perpetrators using this number are making calls to Smart numbers and terminating the transmission, leaving it as a missed call. Any Smart customer who returns the call to the number, is depleted of their credit.”

While Smart has also blocked the number in question from making calls to its subscribers, its advisory extends to “any unknown number of this sort which places and leaves a missed call on your phone.”

It asks customers to report any other unknown foreign calls to the call center at *1090.

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