Tuesday, April 04, 2006

BVI and 809 area code scams, part I

Have you ever received a message on a consumer's pager, answer machine, voicemail or email asking to call a telephone number with an 809 area code?

This is a so-called 809 area code scam which is usually and mistakenly related the British Virgin Islands. Yes, 809 was a code for the British Virgin Islands but it was also an area code for many other Caribbean countries: Anguilla, Antigua Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Turks and Caicos as well as some others. The fact that this code is usually associated with the BVI shows how popular the British Virgin Islands offshore jurisdiction is, however it goes without saying that this could be not the best popularity at all.

So, the situation is such: you get an urgent message in which you are asked to call a phone number with area code 809 (or some other, but 809 is the most popular one). Many callers suppose this is in the United States, but this is some other country – for example, the British Virgin Islands. This number, which is pay-by-minute, is similar to the 900 numbers in the United States, but tolls are much higher. Sometimes the charge can be almost $2,500 per minute.

Unfortunately, in some Caribbean countries no strict legal requirements state that callers must be informed on being charged extra. As a result, many callers have to wait for a very long time. The person answering the phone just keeps the person who dials the number for as long as possible by means of using any way to confuse a caller and to delay time. Meanwhile, the charges run up.

To seduce the callers to make the return phone, many methods are used. You won the prize, somebody has family members, you owe a debt and therefore should call urgently before legal problems appear – these are just some of them. Sales people in businesses can be left a message about a substantial purchase. The fraudsters do not hesitate to cheat elderly people. Whatever the pretext, there is one common theme: the call is to be urgently returned. Thus, the fraudsters hope for immediate calling back without thinking about the number because it is urgent.

to be continued.

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