Cook County prison inmates posing as Sheriffs are scamming St. Louis households with calls that start with a request to aid someone who has just been in an accident by calling a number that starts with *72. The prefix activates call forwarding, allowing all incoming calls to ring at an alternate number; the calls are then billed to the victim.
Police say the scam is not new, nor is it a local phenomenon. In 2005, the Arkansas attorney general issued a consumer alert addressing the call-forwarding con. And a few years ago, a group of inmates in Florida bilked residents of that state, making $50,000 in long-distance calls billed to their unsuspecting victims before they were caught, police said.
The scheme has many variations, authorities said. Sometimes the caller poses as a telephone company technician and claims to need access to check a telephone line. He or she then asks whoever answers to input a code that is supposedly designed to give the “technician” remote access to the line, police said.
Small business owners are susceptible to the same scam, except they must enter *90. If you think call forwarding has been activated on your line, turn it off by dialing *73.
Telephone scam in Lake Saint Louis [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]