Con-artists rack up $500,000 bill on humane society's dime - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Con-artists rack up $500,000 on humane society's dime

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By Tayleigh Davis - bio | email | twitter

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - An Albany non-profit group was the victim of a staggering scam. Con-artists hacked into the Albany Humane Society's phone system. Over one weekend, they ran up a half million dollar phone bill.

Even if the Humane Society is on the hook for a fraction of the bill, that could be tens of thousands of dollars it doesn't have.

It's a Private Brand Exchange or PBX scam. Hackers call a business claiming they're with a phone company investigating technical problems.

Callers ask you to help by dialing an outside line that allows them to bill your office or phone number. It's a tactic businesses need to know so they don't become victims.

"You couldn't do much but laugh," said Humane Society Director, Donna Strickland. "What do you do with a half a million dollar phone bill?" "Hopefully they'll catch the culprits that did it. Whether they get the money out, I don't know and we don't know how much the humane society is going to be responsible for at this point."

AT&T officials say they're still investigating the phone fraud but have not released any specific details. Here are some tips to avoid phone fraud:

Phone company employees checking for service or billing problems will not call and ask you to dial a specific series of numbers.

Avoid placing calls or transferring to 900 numbers.

A legit phone representative will not request you to connect to an outside line.

 If you suspect anything suspicious hang up right away and call your service provider.

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