Law enforcement issues warnings about international phone scam

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(WHSV) — Law enforcement from local to national levels are warning people about a scam that's recently been surging in popularity.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) calls it the "One Ring" or "Wangiri" scam. Essentially, a scammer uses a robocall and often just lets the phone on the other end ring one time, trying to get you to call them back.

But the numbers use a country code for regions like Lithuania, Mauritania, or Morocco. You can recognize them by their country codes – Mauritania's is 222, Lithuania's is 370, others use 32, and so on. Many modern cell phones will show that the call is coming from those countries.

When you call that number back, it will result in high per-minute toll charges, similar to calling a 900 number.

Recent reports indicate the calls have been widespread in New York and Arizona, but they're country-wide. The Grant County Sheriff's Office, in a rural part of West Virginia, recently issued a warning about a surge of the calls.

The West Virginia Attorney General, Patrick Morrisey, said field representatives across the state have received word of the scam.

Advances in technology allow scammers to spoof phone numbers and mask their identity, as well as make massive amounts of calls cheaply and easily.

Generally, the FCC says the roboccaller will hang up after a ring or two and they may call repeatedly to try and harass you into the calling number back.

That toll you pay will then largely go back to the scammer.

The scam is pervasive across the globe – its name, Wangiri, is Japanese for "one cut."

If you've gotten them, they've probably also come from a range of different numbers, making it nearly impossible to block the calls.

But law enforcement agrees on one thing: do not call back. You will incur hefty phone charges.

The FCC and West Virginia attorney general offer these combined tips:

· Do not call back numbers you do not recognize, especially those appearing to originate overseas.
· File a complaint with the FCC if you received these calls: at www.fcc.gov/complaints.
· If you never make international calls, consider talking to your phone company about blocking outbound international calls to prevent accidental toll calls.
· Check your phone bill for charges you don’t recognize.
· Never agree to send cash, wire money or provide numbers associated with a credit/debit card or bank account.
· Never share identity, financial and otherwise sensitive information with a stranger.

Additionally, the FCC has a One Ring scam consumer guide here.