Scams Based in Area Codes 809, 284 and 876

Scams Coming from Area Codes: 809 , 284 and 876

While there is a hoax email circulating about calls coming from area codes 809, 284 and 876, these area codes are the source for a large number of scams.

  • "809" - Dominican Republic.
  • "284" - British Virgin Islands.
  • "876" - Jamaica.
  • Canada

Scammers in these area can make money two ways:

  1. Consumers are tricked into dialing these international phone numbers, which would result in substantial long-distance charges. That is possible because there a few regions outside the U.S., which includes the Caribbean and Canada, that can be dialed directly without the usual "011" international prefix.

  2. The phone numbers appear to be in the United States, but of course, the same laws don't apply.  This makes these areas ideal for scammers who which to target U.S. citizens.

And since these numbers are outside the United States, the U.S. requirement to inform callers in advance of any special rates or fees doesn't apply. Scammers typically trick victims into dialing the numbers by leaving a message that claims that a relative has been injured or arrested, an unpaid account must be settled, or a cash prize can be claimed, etc. When the victim returns the call, they are kept on the line for as long as possible to run up additional charges. The bill for such a call can be substantial (though not nearly as high as $2,400 per minute claimed in the email).

AT&T advises that consumers always check the location of unfamiliar area codes before dialing. This can be done by visiting or simply Googling the area code (e.g., area code 809) and viewing the top result.

AT&T offers the following information and tips:

  • Only return calls to numbers that are familiar to you. As a general rule, return calls from numbers that contain familiar or recognizable area codes. You may call your directory assistance or long distance operator to check the area code location.
  • Carefully read your telephone bill. Make sure that you only receive charges from your provider of choice. Ensure you thoroughly understand charges listed on your phone bill, have chosen to do business with all of the listed providers billing for those charges and have authorized additional fees invoiced. If your local service provider has changed, you will receive a final bill from the former provider and a notice of service disconnection.

If you believe that you have been scammed:

  • Contact the carrier with whom the charge originated, whose name and toll-free telephone number should be printed on the same bill page as the charge in question. Often, the problem can be resolved with a single phone call.
  • If the carrier with whom the charge originated does not agree to resolve the problem, contact AT&T. AT&T will work with you and the carrier to help remove fraudulent charges from the phone bill.

You may file a complaint online with the Federal Communications Commission about this and/or related phone scams.

Report of an area code 876 scam":

I received today (May 5, 2008) a telephone lottery scam.  The caller (non-English accent) stated that they were "Blue Fountain (Largest or Lottery) Company" and that I had won 2.5 Million dollars. They were unable to tell me exactly how I came about winning this sum and gave several possible ways. The caller ID showed "unknown caller".  However, to claim this prize I must call-back the call-agents manager for more information at this number: 876-565-1907


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