Premium Rate Scam

Classification Status

Urban Legend

Chain Mail



Scam   Aliases  
"Dim bulb" Rating (Click here for details)

This is hoax, chain e-mail and urban legend. It first appeared in 2002 .

Please see the below which I was sent. 

The reason this is working so well is it plays on our good will! 

The scene:- You are sitting at home and there is a knock at the door. On answering it you are confronted by a respectable looking woman in a suit, who is slightly distressed. She explains that her car has broken down further down the road and she needs to contact her husband to come to her aid. Is it at all possible to use your phone to call him? You allow her to use the phone, but being
the suspicious type you stand with her as she makes the call. 

She dials the number, and asks to be put through to Mr Smith/Brown /Stevens
(Whatever). She holds the line for about thirty seconds. She continues,
"In that case can you ask him to leave the meeting for a minute I need
to speak to him quite urgently." She apologies again and explains they
are getting him out of a meeting. A couple of minutes goes by and she
starts to speak to her husband. She explains the situation to him, tells
him what has happened to the car, is annoyed because she now can't get
to her meeting, and asks what she should do now. She listens for a few
seconds and then says, "Well as soon as the meeting finishes can you
come to Cardiff Road / Leicester Road /Surrey Street (Whatever), where
the car has broken down. Another few seconds go by, "OK, I'll see you in
about twenty minutes then." She put the phone down, and thanks you ever
so much for your kind assistance, even offering you a pound for your
trouble, but of course you decline, it's no trouble. She leaves and
everything is fine. Or is it? 

The day or week before knocking on your door she set up her own premium rate line with a telephone company at the cost of about 150, and she has dictated that calls to that number should be charged at 50 per minute. She has dialled that number. The conversation she has had with her "husband" is entirely fictitious,
there is a pre-recorded voice message on the other end to give you the
impression she is talking to someone. She has been on the phone for
about five minutes, that call just cost you 250, the majority of which
goes into her pocket, and the first you know about it is when you get
your bill a month later. To rub a bit of salt into the wound, it would
be difficult to show that she has committed a criminal offence. You've
given her permission to use your phone. 5 occasions in Luton where this
has been reported in the last couple of weeks . Would anyone reading
this please pass it on to friends and colleagues etc. otherwise it could
cost someone a lot of money. 

Right, let's debunk this:

1. The highest per-minute call rate according to ICSTIS is 1.50 per minute. So how can a 5 minute call exceed 250?
2. In the US you can claim fraudulent call costs back. In the UK you can't.
3. ICSTIS in the UK (they are the body that regulates premium-rate services) say it is a hoax.
4. No 'official' police statement giving this any credibility has been made.

So, let's suppose you are in a scenario as above, what can you do to protect yourself?

Simply ask for the number and dial it yourself, give the other party the details and then pass the handset over. That way you can confirm it is a real person and not a pre-recorded message or other 'strange' service.

If of course it is a scam, then call the police and contact ICSTIS instead.

If you receive a message about this then please ignore it and don't pass it on as this only serves to propagate it.

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