The *72 phone scam is growing in popularity, according to the Houston Chronicle, and Comcast is warning consumers about it.
“We were just starting to see a little bit of a trend here, and it was happening to several of our customers. We just decided to be proactive and alert people about this scam,” Ray Purser, a Comcast spokesman, told the Chronicle.
Lt. John Martin, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the *72 fraud has been going on for a long time. He said it is difficult to track down the person who made the call because it takes place on a phone in a cell block with 20 to 30 inmates.
Martin described how the scam works: An inmate will call a person collect. If the person accepts the call, the inmate will claim to have dialed the wrong number.
“And then they will give you some sob story, saying ‘This is my only phone call. I was arrested on traffic tickets, and I got my young child here at the station. They are going to send my child to CPS (Child Protective Services) if I can’t get in touch with my mom, my uncle or whomever.’ ” Martin said.
The inmate will ask the person to dial another number with *72 in front of it, Martin said.
The use of *72 actually forwards the telephone to another number.
Purser said a person will not realize his phone has been forwarded until he notices his phone has stopped ringing for an extended time, or sees the bill with expensive long-distance calls. He said some Comcast customers were billed for long-distance calls to foreign countries. He declined to say how many customers have been victimized.
You obviously don’t need to be a Comcast customer to be victimized in this scam. You can turn call forwarding off by dialing *73. Tell a friend!