scam squad

Chinese robocalls bombarding the U.S. are part of an international phone scam problem. But many of our most popular scams are homegrown. Scammers are always devising smart new ways to defraud millions. The latest example, the One Ring Scam, started on May 3. That day the FCC experienced an explosion of complaints. A spokesman said, “We’ve never seen that call volume before."

Phone fraud can start with complete silence at the other end of the phone line. The scam involves calls hanging up after a simple one-ring. The plan tricks recipients into calling back on an expensive toll line to foreign countries, mainly in West Africa. These calls can cost as much as $4.99 per minute. If you suspect that you may have unwittingly returned calls of this nature, check your phone statement for fraudulent charges and report them to the carrier.

Fraudsters find it easy to perpetuate these kinds of scams, and they know that it is hard to stop these calls. Using technology, they send out millions of calls from their computer with the click of a button. The scam works by instilling a sense of fear of the unknown, arrest, or investigation by a government agency. They typically target immigrants, taxpayers, debtors, and retirees.

The scammers need only a fraction of the recipients to fall for their scheme to remain profitable. According to Truecaller Spam Blocker, it costs Americans at least $10.5 billion a year. There is an irony to all that success, aside from high cost to consumers; we could be witnessing the death of the phone call.

Most cell phone providers recognize they need to step up the fight to stop robocalls and spam, and many of them are. You should check with your phone provider to learn more about specific solutions they have and steps you can take to stop the relentless robocall from reaching you.

Call the Pima County Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers with information about scams and frauds. To contact the Scam Squad directly, 9 am to noon Monday through Friday, call (520) 351-6715, or email: To report suspicious activity or a particular incident of fraud (which is a scam involving a loss of money) call (520) 351-4900.

If you are interested in becoming a Sheriff's Auxiliary Volunteer, please email for an application or call (520) 351-6746.

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