Police warn about scams targeting southern Utah

ST. GEORGE – Authorities are warning about two prevalent scams that have targeted Utahns since the beginning of the year.

473 phone scam

Utah law enforcement agencies have issued a statewide alert warning about scammers who are calling from the 473 area code, which originates from Granada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

If you answer the call, you may hear what sounds like someone in distress and then they will hang up, according to information provided by the Utah Department of Public Safety Cyber Crimes Unit.

The fraudsters expect that you will call back, at which point they will capture confidential information from your phone that can result in thousands of dollars being charged to your phone account.

“When you make that call they get a percentage of that international call,” Major Brian Redd of DPS said, as reported by Marcos Ortiz on Thursday at ABC 4 Utah. “I’m not sure how much they’re making,” he said, “a call is upwards of $25 a minute.”

“First and foremost, we ask people to block all calls from area code 473,” Keith Squires, commissioner of the DPS said in a statement released Thursday.  “For those who are unable to block calls on their phones we ask that you contact your phone service provider to get assistance.”

The DPS Cyber Crimes Unit and the Statewide Information and Analysis Center are working with the FBI and other Utah Law Enforcement agencies to provide any additional information and to minimize the impact of this scam for Utah citizens, Squires said.

Utility bill scam

According to information released on Saturday, the Mesquite Police Department in Nevada is warning about a scam targeting local businesses and residents. Police have received multiple complaints concerning someone impersonating the Overton Power Bill collection services.

The scammer is calling their intended victim and telling them they are past due on their power bill and if it is not paid immediately, their power will be turned off.

The fraudster instructs the victim to go to the store and purchase a Green Dot card (a type of pre-paid card see website for details) and load the card with the amount of cash owed on the bill.

The victim is then instructed to scratch off the back of the Green Dot card revealing the code, call the scammer and give them the code, which grants them access to the money loaded on the card.

Mesquite Police have not received any reports of the perpetrators successfully completing the scam. However, similar scams throughout the U.S. have left many people victimized.

There have been similar scams widely reported in Hurricane, St. George and Salt Lake City as well.

How to protect yourself

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Email: sheinecke@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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