I was recently sent a note from Andy Orpin, who is a Police Community Support Officer, warning of a telephone scam.
This is what he wrote:
“I received a call from a ‘representative’ of British Telecom, informing me that he was dis-connecting me because of an unpaid bill. He demanded payment immediately of £31.00 or it would be £118.00 to re-connect at a later date.
The guy wasn’t even fazed when I told him I was with Virgin Media, allegedlyVirgin Media have to pay BT a percentage for line rental!
I asked the guy’s name – he gave me the very English John Peacock with a very African accent, and a phone number.
The fellow realised I didn’t believe his story, so offered to demonstrate that he was from BT. I asked how, and he told me to hang up and try phoning someone – he would disconnect my phone to prevent this. AND HE DID !!
My phone was dead – no engaged tone, nothing – until he phoned me again.
Very pleased with himself, he asked if that was enough proof that he was with BT. I asked how the payment was to be made and he said credit card, there and then.
I said that I didn’t know how he’d done it, but I had absolutely no intention of paying him, I didn’t believe his name or that he worked for BT.
He hung up. I dialled 1471 – number withheld. I phoned his fictitious 0800 number – not recognised, so I phoned the Police to let them know. I wasn’t the first! It’s only just started apparently, but it is escalating.
Their advice was to let as many people as possible know about this scam. The fact that the phone does go off would probably convince some people it’s real, so please make as many friends and family aware of this as you can.
How is it done? This is good but not that clever. He gave the wrong number by one digit – it should have been 0800 800 152 which takes you through to BT Business.
The cutting of the line is very simple: he stays on the line with the mute button on so you can’t dial out – but he can hear you trying. This is because the person who initiates a call is the one to terminate it. When you stop trying he cuts off the mute and immediately calls back.
You could almost be convinced!
The sad thing is that it is so simple that it will certainly fool the vulnerable. This is not about getting the cash as this would not get past merchant services – it is all about getting the credit card details which include the security number so that it can be used for large purchases.”
Andy ORPIN, Police Community Support Officer