Sylvia's Blog

This blog was created in memory of my mother, Sylvia Siegel, who passed away peacefully in her sleep on 8/18/2007. It's intended to serve as a collection point for articles written about her, and for any type of anecdotes that anyone would care to share. So feel free to post entries and share. If you want to be added to the list of contributors, just send me an e-mail and I'll add you to the list. Also in my mom's memory, I will use this as a vehicle to post consumer-oriented information, especially related to telecommunications.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Harassing calls from area code 876 (Jamaica phone scam)

Although this is my mom's blog, I thought it would be appropriate to post a consumer alert here. She might have appreciated whatever small steps I might take to carry on in her footsteps.

Here's the situation: in the past couple of weeks, I've been getting harassing calls from Jamaica (the country) to my cellphone. Needless to say this is disruptive and annoying, since I get several a day.

Here are the numbers I've received calls from (thus far -- I'll update the list as I get more):

(876) 375-9740
(876) 441-3652
(876) 303-5893
(876) 470-0341
(876) 584-4405
(876) 491-9206

These calls are a scam, and the people who are calling are trying
to get you to call them back so you'll incur international phone charges, of which they apparently get a cut. In addition, it may also be a scam to try to get personal information, but having never called them back I am not certain of that. I know others who are also getting these types of calls, and I'm very concerned that people will call the numbers back, because the message they leave is somewhat compelling, and the number, coming from 876, looks like it's a toll-free number. So most people would be tempted to call the number back.

What to do about them? I have an iPhone, which does not allow me to block a number. Apparently other phones, like the Treo, have third-party applications which allow you to block any number. I also use AT&T, which doesn't allow you to block numbers except by buying an extra service for $5/month, which I don't think I should have to pay. AT&T offered to allow me to change my phone number for free, but again, that's not something I want to do or feel I should have to do. So, while the customer service people at AT&T were nice, they were unable to help me. Repeated calls were unable to get them to give me the blocking service for free, although I do know from experience that calling multiple times often gets you to someone who can solve your problem.

I complained to the FCC and TURN, and am waiting to hear back from both. I also wrote to Interpol, and here's what they had to say:

Dear Madam,

Thank you for your e-mail.
INTERPOL offices are unable to deal with such enquiries from members of the public.
In response to your request we would advise you to contact your local police
authorities directly, who will be able to assess the circumstances and will know how
to access the appropriate INTERPOL channels if required.


Press Office

Not much help. I've written to my local PD, and we'll see where that goes from here.

If any of you out there have run into this problem and figured out how to solve it, please let me know!


Taytay said...

I have also been getting these calls from Jamaica, it is a scam. They are telling you, "you've won a $1.5 million dollar Walmart sweepstakes however you need to send $500 via Western Union to some guy in Montego Bay, Jamaica for taxes." LOL. And they give you a address..ridiculous.
I've told them straight up, "leave me alone, I know it's a a scam, i won't give you money." They keep on calling. I've been cussed at had to cuss a few of them!
Right now at 10:30 on a Wednesday night, they just called me.

Anonymous said...

They have upped the ante to 5 million dollars now and I have received the calls at 4am. This version has Mr. Tony saying that Bank of America is going to deliver a package (the 5 million)to my home via UPS tomorrow. I just need to go to Walmart and have Western Union send some money to Mr. Smith. As soon as I get my reciept, he will ok the package delivery. He is very persistent. The number on this one is 876-286-9143.

Anonymous said...

I have been receiving 1 to 3
calls per week from a number in Jamaica. They tell me that my
mother who is deceased has a
package waiting for her authorization so it can be shipped.
I told them to stop calling or I
would report them to the Authorities, he told me and I
quote " Go ahead the U.S. Authorities can't do anything about
it." He is very rude and persistent. The number on this one
is: 876-877-1343. P.S. I asked him
how a deceased person could claim a
package, he hung up.

jokar4988 said...

My 15 year old daughter was home sick and answered the phone from someone looking for me from Jamaica. When she told I was not available he began asking her who was watching her and what was she sick from etc. he aked her if he could find out any information on her she told she could not talk to him because I was not available. I believe it was a scam to get money because although she had a hard time understanding him she did near him say something about cheaper than retail. The phone number is 876-589-4300. I tried calling my local Verizon to find out if they could tell me where the number was coming from in Jamaica but they told me they couldn't and did not know how I could get information. I just though I would let everyone know.

rita said...

I started getting these calls yesterday. A man said he was from UPS and I need to pay $399 through a wire transfer from walmart or western union. He told me I entered the contest from paying with a credit card at walmart. I told him I would have to verify this "sweepstakes" with a walmart supervisor. He gave me an 876 number to call and said it was toll-free. I went to look it up online and found a list of walmarts in my area. I called the number and caught him in a lie when I asked him to give me the address and the number of his store. I got four calls that day and three today.

Anonymous said...

I just received the same type of call from Jamica, the number this time was 876-505-2798.

tunes699 said...

I got a call at 0645 from a foreign national telling me I won 10 million. Couldn't talk, was going to work. They'll call back.....Oh goodie! The number was 876-471-2391. Knew it was a scam.

Anonymous said...

Just got a call from 876-291-7175 trying to say I won 4 million dollars I hung up. Then got a phone call 30 mins later from a private caller and it was the same moron, told him highly unlikely and hung up. Haven't seen this number on here yet so wanted to post it.

Anonymous said...

I have received numerous calls over the past 3 days from 876-305-7169 and 876-496-7433. My baby sitter took the first call and asked to take a message and they claimed to have a package for me. Since then I have received many more calls but I haven't picked up or returned them since I immediately suspected a scam. I thought they'd be after my info but didn't actually suspect the international calling charge. Thanks for bringing attention to this scam!
P.S. My baby sitter was also asked her several questions as to where I was and who she was.

Anonymous said...

My mother is eagerly awaiting the UPS man who is going to bring her the 2.5 million dollars she won! Her Jamaican call came from
876-557-3763. This "Agent Scott" said she was to go to western union by 11-11-08 and purchase a gold stamp from Western Union which she should give to the UPS man when he comes to her house at 11:35 AM. "Agent Scott" also made sure to tell her to dress nice because he was also coming to take pictures of the prize being awarded. The scam agent also said he was boarding the companies private plane to fly here to present her prize. The FBI was even going to be with him for her protection. He told her not to tell anyone about the winnings or they would bug her to share her winnings!WOW sounds great, I hope mom shares her winnings with her loving daughter!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My mother has been receiving tons of calls from Jamaica. They are extreamely rude and start calling at five in the morning. Today I answered the phone and told them to stop harrassing my mother and he responded with " you get off of the phone and put your mother back on". You can only imagine what comment I responed with. Maybe involving the news media could help. These people are relentless and crazy.