Dubuque Police Warn of Missed Call Phone Scam

by Katie Wiedemann, Reporter


By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Calling back that strange missed call number on your phone could cost you. It's all part of a scam that police are warning about. The Better Business Bureau says it involves scammers who call certain people, often in the middle of the night.They let the cell phone ring just once and then hang up. Victims who call the number back wind up connected to a paid adult entertainment service that's located overseas The victim is, then, charged almost $20 on the next cell phone bill.

When Jake Wagner got a call from what appeared to be a cell phone number from Florida. He knew better than to call back.

"Yesterday evening around 4 p.m. was when I got the call," Wagner said. "I know no one from Florida. Kissimee, Florida especially. "

But police said even if a number does look somewhat familiar, beware. When scammers are doing something called cramming, the number that shows up on a caller ID, might not be the actual number calling a person.

"This is a spoofing practice where they can camoflauge the number and make it look like it's coming from a legitimate source. Disposable phones and untraceable numbers. It's virtually impossible to track these individuals down," Dubuque Police Lt. Scott Baxter said.

When KCRG called some of the numbers reportedly associated with the scam, the numbers were disconnected. Still police warn, this may not be over.

"My biggest fear is maybe we are in the middle of a bill cycle and they haven't gotten their bill just yet. Or they haven't reviewed it or they simply [have] not looked at it, " said Baxter.

As for Wagner, he says he can understand how that could happen.

"I probably wouldn't even know because my phone bill is automatically set up to come right out of my checking account, " said Wagner.

If you are really tempted to call that number back, police say at least check it out first. Google it, or try a website like, http://whocalled.us/. That website tracks scam phone numbers.

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