Woman stuck with outrageous phone bill she says isn't hers

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By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX -- A busy grandmother, Victoria Jones says family is her priority. But she also has another priority: Paying her bills on time.

"These are all the bills. You have to sit down and pay this, this, and this. That is an obligation you have to do,” Jones told 3 On your Side.

One of those bills is from Sprint, which provides phone service to her house. It is a bill that has remained pretty consistent over the past few years.

“It's usually about $20. to as much as $32 to $33,” she explained. However, a few months ago Jones got a big shock when she saw her Sprint bill.

“Well, that small bill that is usually about $20 became like more than $300,” she said.

It’s all because of one certain phone call.

“[It was] a phone call from here to Jamaica for like 51 minutes,” she explained.

That call alone racked up a $200 charge. It's a call Jones insists she never made.

“I have no idea about Jamaica," she said. "I’ve never been to Jamaica. I don't know anyone from Jamaica."

She complained to Sprint, saying there must be a mistake, but the company would not listen.

“It's a long-distance call from Jamaica that ‘I made’ they say, and I have to pay for it because it came from my phone,” Jones explained.

3 On Your Side got involved and learned that the Jamaican area code scam is pretty common.

Consumers like Jones get a phone call saying UPS or a delivery company is trying to deliver a package and are encouraged to call the 8-7-6 number for information.

When they do, they're zapped with an outrageous charge. Jones did say she remembered getting these kinds of calls.

"'Victoria Jones, you need to call us, it's very important that you call us back,'” she remembers the phone call said.

But Jones is adamant that she has never called back, and certainly was not on the phone with someone for 51 minutes.

Sprint tells us they are investigating and hopes to have a decision for 3 On Your Side soon.

Jones says she can't wait.

“My blood pressure shoots up every month,” she said.

The lesson here is simple. Do not to return phone calls to area codes you do not recognize. Look up unknown area codes before you dial so you know exactly where you're calling.

These kinds of scams work because some areas outside the U.S. -- including Jamaica -- can be dialed without an international call prefix (usually 011 from the U.S.) or country code. Because the number are not subject to U.S. law, they don't have to inform potential callers about the rates or fees they will incur.

Other common area codes used in the con are 809 for the Caribbean Islands and 284 for the British Virgin Islands.

When Sprint gets to the bottom of this matter, we will let you know what -- if anything -- they will do.