For the record, I am trying very hard to not put any Lord of the Rings references in this article, but I can tell you the temptation is unbelievable, given the name of this scam.
Here’s how it works: your phone rings one time. Curious, you use caller ID to call them back. A charge for an international call and/or an extra charge for some kind of “service” gets added to your phone bill. Most of that money ends up going to the scammer.
That’s pretty much the whole scheme.
In the wave of one-ring fraudulent calls that hit in 2019, the calls came from the “222” country (not area) code, which is the West African nation Mauritania. Since most people don’t memorize things like country or area codes, on first glance the number might just look like a regular domestic phone call. The FCC has detailed information available for download here.
I have written several times about not going through your caller ID list and calling every number back. In the case of the “spoofed local number” robocalls, it was because the caller ID was NOT showing the actual number from which you were being contacted. Calling back would only end up with you harassing an innocent person.
But in this case, the caller ID is not being spoofed, or at least, it is displaying a number the scammers want you to reach because that’s all it takes to skim some money from you. Some scams go for big hauls from a small pool of victims; this one is aiming for small gains from many.
A one ring scam to rule them all, if you will.
(I almost made it.)