Tulsa World staffers received dozens of calls from Sierra Leone phone numbers, some listed as originating from the U.S., that are said to be part of a call-back scam.
Recent calls from Sierra Leone to people in the Tulsa area and around the state are reportedly scams.
The Sand Springs Police Department put out a warning about what’s known as a “wangiri” scam; the original call is placed by an auto dialer, and when a person answers, it disconnects, or a message may ask the person to call back.
“DO NOT CALL BACK. It is an attempt by scam artists to collect money from the call back,” a social media post from the agency says.
The wangiri or “one-ring” scam originally appeared in the U.S. in 2013.
“If the victim calls back, they will be connected to an international hotline charging a connection fee, along with significantly high per-minute fees,” according to Hiya, software that identifies unknown numbers and automatically blocks scam calls and internet spam across the globe.
“Unfortunately, the victim doesn’t realize they’ve been scammed, until they see the premium services on their monthly phone bill.”
Attorney General Mike Hunter on Friday issued a consumer alert in response to the rash of scam calls.
The calls appear to originate from the “232” area code of the African nation of Sierra Leone, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Hunter said while his office accepts consumer complaints on phone scams, they are extremely hard to trace.
“These types of scams are malicious and my office is urging Oklahomans to pay close attention to the calls they are receiving,” the attorney general said in a press release.
“In addition to these scams charging high international and connection fees, the longer someone is on the phone, the more the scam call costs. …
“The best thing Oklahomans can do is to not answer unknown numbers and not call the number back.”
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Roebuck said that though many Sheriff’s Office employees received the calls themselves, no criminal complaints had been filed.
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