One-Ring Scam Tricks People Into Calling Expensive Sex Chat Hotlines

A one-ring scam is targeting polite cell phone users by tricking them into calling a racy and expensive foreign chat line.

The scam targets mobile phone users with an automated dialing system that allows a call to be placed to their phone for exactly one ring. That is long enough to register as a missed call, but usually not long enough for the user to actually answer the call.

The call itself usually comes from from Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, or the Dominican Republic, countries that share the “1” country code with the United States. This leaves unsuspecting cell phone owners thinking the call came from the United States, and the most polite among them will call the number back.

But they soon find that the number belongs to a phone sex hotline, one that comes with a $20 international calling charge and big fees for every minute the person stays on the line.

The one-ring scam is also known as “cramming” and is illegal in the United States, but the Federal Trade Commission can’t enforce the law overseas.

The Better Business Bureau has put out a warning about the cell phone scam, telling people not to answer out-of-state telephone numbers that they don’t recognize. If they miss a call, do not call it back, and check cell phone bills carefully.

In an age of high-tech online scheme, the one-ring is a bit of a throwback. In the past year there have been a rise of social-media fueled scams, things like fictitious Cyber Monday contests that steal personal information or send malware to computers.

Some people fooled by the one-ring scam have been able to have the charges reversed by contacting their carrier, but not everyone has been so lucky. The earlier the fraud is noticed the better the chance of canceling the charges, the Better Business Bureau noted.