The One Ring Scam is Back, Beware These Area Codes

Image of white phone icon against blue background with words in red, The One Ring Scheme is Back...Protect Yourself. Caption reads, The One Ring Fraud Scheme consists of con artists using offshore telephone area codes to initiate calls to unsuspecting people then hanging up. Some will call the number back out of curiousity and find they are charged a steep connection fee. Do not fall prey to this scam, which has been modified; scammers now leave messages to the effect that there is an emergency, there is an important message, or you have won some sweepstakes prize.

Bookmark and share this page because it contains information vital to protecting you and those you care about. The “One Ring Scam” has been around since before smart phones, before cell phones.

Back in the days when 900 numbers began to become popular, some nefarious folks discovered that rather than use a 900 number, they could use an area code from another country to achieve fraudulent gains. Here is how the scheme works, the most common area codes used for this fraud scheme, and how you can protect yourself.

The One Ring (or Area Code 473) Scheme – How it Works

English: Map of area codes in the United State...
English: Map of area codes in the United States as of 2011-05-12 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a very simple scheme which originally played on our natural curiousity. A caller from an area code which charged rates for inbound calls would phone random numbers then hang up after one ring. The person receiving the call would be naturally curious and phone the number back, if only to find out who is calling them. On making the call, at least one thing happened.

By initiating the call back, usually to an offshore Caribbean number, the phone company added a calling charge to your bill. The most common charge was $19.95, set to appear as if the caller had made a phone call to a 900 phone sex hotline. During the 1990s, one can only imagine how many marriages were damaged by such schemes as wives opened phone bills to discover their husbands presumed clandestine activities. In any case, that was the first charge.

Then scammers would even attempt to keep the person on the line for as long as possible because there were also per minute charges. These charges could be any rate they desired, but were often $9.00 per minute. Why 9? That’s not really known, but that was the most common rate in the 1990s for these calls.

With the rise of the Do Not Call Listings and call blocking in the late 90s, these schemes fairly dried up. That is, until cell phones began to become popular. With Smart Phones, the return of the One Ring, or as it has come to be known today, the 473 Scam, the fraud scheme is taking on new life.

Today, rather than simply rely on the curiousity of recipients of a call, scammers use a variety of methods. One is to call and leave an urgent message, perhaps claiming someone has been hurt, perhaps claiming some other emergency. Another is to urge people to call to claim winnings in a sweepstakes or other prize. The goal in any case is to get an unsuspecting person to call the number back at which point, additional charges WILL apply.

What Are the Most Common Area Codes Used for the One Ring (473) Scam?

Following are the most common locations and their area codes used for the One Ring fraud scheme. Notice that most are Caribbean Area Codes. This is because although these smaller nations are included in the North American Numbering Plan, they are independent of the United States and can make their own laws regarding phone service.

  • Anguilla (264 Area Code)
  • Antigua (268 Area Code)
  • Bahamas (242 Area Code)
  • Barbados (246 Area Code)
  • Bermuda (441 Area Code)
  • Dominican Republic (809, 829, 849 Area Codes)
  • Montserrat (664 Area Code)
  • St. Vincent and Grenadines (784 Area Code)
  • Trinidad and Tobago (868 Area Code)
  • Turks and Caicos (649 Area Code)

Note that this list is not exhaustive, but rather simply the most common locations used to perpetrate the One Ring fraud scam.

How Can You Protect Yourself From the One Ring (473) Fraud Scam?

Image of white phone icon against blue background with words in red, The One Ring Scheme is Back...Protect Yourself. Caption reads, The One Ring Fraud Scheme consists of con artists using offshore telephone area codes to initiate calls to unsuspecting people then hanging up. Some will call the number back out of curiousity and find they are charged a steep connection fee. Do not fall prey to this scam, which has been modified; scammers now leave messages to the effect that there is an emergency, there is an important message, or you have won some sweepstakes prize.
The One Ring Fraud Scheme consists of con artists using offshore telephone area codes to initiate calls to unsuspecting people then hanging up. Some will call the number back out of curiousity and find they are charged a steep connection fee. Do not fall prey to this scam, which has been modified; scammers now leave messages to the effect that there is an emergency, there is an important message, or you have won some sweepstakes prize.

Protecting oneself from a fraud scheme like the One Ring/473 scam is simple: Don’t call these numbers back. Of course, if you are unsure, check out the area code before calling a number back. One way to do this is to perform a quick search by typing in the words “area code + the number.” If an area code is one that is commonly related to fraud schemes, the search results will generally reveal the truth.

Another way is to visit the NANPA (North American Numbering Plan Administration) for more information.

Remember too that if there is a real emergency, odds are you will be contacted directly by law enforcement or emergency personnel. These will use area codes in the United States unless you happen to have a family member traveling to a foreign port at the time of the alleged emergency. If such a situation happens to present itself, try first to contact your loved one directly via their cell phone.

Most importantly, regardless of the approach used, con artists always rely on emotion to drive their schemes. Do not respond emotionally. Use your head before placing any call to someone you do not know.

We hope you found this information relating to the One Ring/473 scam useful. Please share this with friends via social media to help get the word out.

This scam, which had at one time nearly ceased, is again on the rise. Those most at risk are our children–an entire generation of people who were not alive when the One Ring scheme was last popular. Be sure to share this with them and remind them to research any unknown number before calling it back.

CJOakes
President, Publisher at Oakes Media Group

C J Oakes is an author and freelance writer from Lubbock, TX, USA. In addition to this website, he operates OakesWriting.com and BuyLocalLubbock.com.


As an author, he has numerous books to his credit including the best-selling Survive and Thrive After the Collapse of the Dollar series. In addition, he has written over a hundred books for clients since 2011 and has created innumerable web pages for law firms and others worldwide.


Passionate about Justice, Mr. Oakes believes that the scales of justice are never balanced, but it is the duty of each citizen to do their part to re-calibrate the scales as needed. When the scales of justice shift too far to one side, they must be returned a near as possible to center.


He built this site with the goal of helping students of criminal justice understand how to apply the principles needed for re-calibrating the scales as well as providing easy access to needed study resources.


Criminal Justice Law International welcomes guest posts and anyone interested in contributing to the goals of the site.


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