Earlier this month, I wrote about three versions of a phone scam that resurfaced after a period of dormancy. In its various variants, what is now known as a "473 Scam," "Ring and Run Scam," or "One Ring Scam," involves criminals tricking people into calling or texting them back at a premium number billed at up to 20 dollars for the first minute, usually one that appears to be in the United States, but is not. The perpetrators often trick people by creating some sense of urgency, for example, by screaming "help" and then hanging up, or by stimulating human curiosity about the identity of the caller by repeatedly calling and hanging up before the target answers the phone. 473 Scams have lured many people; to stay safe, it is important to learn more about this type of scam - so please see my article Do Not Return a Call or Text From These Area Codes--It May Be a Scam.

Since the publication of that article, however, several people mentioned to me their recently having seen another variant of the scam - and one that merits special mention. In this fourth version of the "473 Scam," criminals post "help wanted" type ads on various online bulletin boards or physical job boards around a city - advertising jobs that are likely to be attractive with their intended target audience; the ads note, of course, that in order to obtain more information or to apply one should "call for more information." Of course - you guessed it - the number to call is a premium number overseas that looks like it is in the USA. There is, of course, no real job available for which to apply either.

I discussed this new version of the "473 Scam" with a representative of the United States Federal Trade Commission yesterday - and he informed me that our conversation was the first that he was hearing of it. Hopefully, that means that by spreading the word now before the scam proliferates we can save many people - some of whom may be out of work and desperate enough to try anything to find an honest paycheck - from being cheated.

There is a general lesson to learn, however: never call or text a phone number whose area code you do not recognize. It does not matter where you see the number - online, in print, or on your cellphone. It takes literally seconds to Google an area code - so do so. If the area code is outside the United States, and you weren't expecting to be placing a call (or texting) to outside the country, pause a moment and think twice before doing so.

Also, for your reference, at the bottom of the my earlier article (Do Not Return a Call or Text From These Area Codes - It May Be a Scam) I included a table of non-USA area codes that use country code 1, and look like they might be domestic.