More Warnings About The Increasingly Popular *72 Phone Scam

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!

Comcast warns of *72 phone-forwarding scam [Houston Chronicle]


Edit Your Comment

  1. johnperkins21 says:

    Just another reason to never, ever answer the phone. I never answer my phone or my door unless I’m expecting a call or visitor. If they know me and it’s important, they can leave a message.

  2. bohemian says:

    I love caller ID, if I don’t know the number I probably don’t want to talk to them.

  3. parad0x360 says:

    Uhm..what kind of moron would fall for this? If a prison inmate calls me and gives me a sob story i’d tell him/her that they are gonna have to deal with it because they broke the law. Unless of course it was a pot charge then i would let me use my phone freely because thats just injustice!

  4. itsgene says:

    On a regular POTS line, this scam only works if you have Call Forwarding service enabled on your line — in which case, you probably are savvy enough to know what *72 does. Meanwhile, the phone doesn’t just stop ringing. When call forwarding is in effect, the phone will ring once when a call comes in.
    I can only assume that Comcast phone lines come with Call Forwarding enabled by default. Do they also not ring once when the call comes through? Some of the drawbacks of VOIP, I suppose.

  5. Pope John Peeps II says:

    @johnperkins21: You must have SO. MANY. FRIENDS.

  6. howie_in_az says:

    @Pope John Peeps II: sarcasm… detector… failing…

  7. BigNutty says:

    My brother-in-law did this from a Colorado prison many times. He said it’s the standard policy for prisoners because they are always broke and lonely.

    A agree with JOHNPERKINS21 and never answer my phone (or door if I don’t recognize them through the peep hole) because you never know who it is.

  8. EtherealStrife says:

    readers beware: *73 forwards you to consumerist’s toll line


  9. biblio26 says:

    Why would you accept a collect call when you don’t know the person calling?

  10. MrEvil says:

    I guess how the people get charged for the forwarded calls is the forwarded calls are collect. In which case the number you told the operator to dial is the one that gets charged, no matter where the call gets forwarded.

    Easiest thing to do is tell them “Have fun with Thunder Dick.”

  11. Trai_Dep says:

    But the important question: was the inmate, y’know, HOT?!

  12. swalve says:

    This scam has been around since touch-tone…

  13. @swalve: Watson, come here, I need you… dial *72. Apparently some vagabond has pilfered some items, and has been locked up by the constabulary. He dialed the wrong number. He wanted “6”, and we are “2”.

  14. mthrndr says:


    JERRY: Hello?

    COMPUTER VOICE: You have a collect call from–

    KRAMER: Hey, buddy, don’t say no!

    JERRY: I accept.

    KRAMER: I went down to Madeline’s. I told her, “You gotta move, or it’s over.”

    JERRY: Well, what happened?

    KRAMER: I think it’s over. We had a big fight, she threw me out, I started walkin’, and now I’m lost downtown! I don’t have any money. I don’t recognize anybody. I miss home, and I don’t even know how to get there.

    JERRY: What’s around you?

    KRAMER: I’m lookin’ at Ray’s Pizza. You know where that is?

    JERRY: Is it Famous Ray’s?

    KRAMER: No. It’s Original Ray’s.

    JERRY: Famous Original Ray’s?

    KRAMER: It’s just Original, Jerry!

    JERRY: Well, what street are you on?

    KRAMER: Hey, I’m on first and first. How can the same street intersect with itself? I must be at the nexus of the universe.

    JERRY: Just wait there. I’ll pick you up, and, Kramer, stay alive no matter what occurs, I will find you!

  15. dysthymia says:

    @mthrndr: Happy festivus!!!

  16. Antediluvian says:

    Who the heck even makes collect calls any more?

    Other than lonely, scamming prisoners, of course.

    And that douchebag, Kramer.

  17. dualityshift says:

    This scam requires the victim to be compassionate and willing to help those less fortunate.

    Fortunately, I am no such person.

  18. HOP says:

    my kids were playing with our phone many years ago when we had call forwarding….they forwarded all our call to some stranger…..we wsern’t getting any calls….a friend asked us if our phone was broke as everytime they called us, they got some chinese person…needless to say we cancelled call forwarding….

  19. Anonymous says:

    HOP: If your kid’s didn’t know the keypress combination to use forwarding, that is some damn lucky key combination they chose to type in randomly.

  20. Chongo says:

    as I wrote in a past post… they almost got me! they said a girl I knew was in an accident and to call *72 etc etc. I didnt but my heart was pounding out of my chest!

  21. inno says:

    Dude, I don’t even shit unless the turd presents 2 forms of ID. Don’t worry about the logistics, suffice to say the verification process is not a pleasant one.