Police are warning residents across Devon and Cornwall about a telephone scam where people are persuaded to pay money over the phone to avoid having their line cut off.
Reports have been made to police in South Molton of an individual ringing the customer claiming to be from BT, advising them that their line will be disconnected because of an unpaid bill.
A payment of £31 is demanded to rectify the situation, otherwise it will cost £118 to re-connect the line at a later date.
If the customer tells them that that they are with a different phone provider, they tell you that they have to pay BT a percentage for line rental.
The caller provides a contact name and phone number (for example 0800 0800 152) and offers to demonstrate that they are from BT to show they are genuine. The customer is requested to hang up and try phoning someone. The caller advises that they will disconnect the phone to prevent this. The customer’s phone line then goes dead with no engaged tone until the caller phones back again, saying that is proof that he/she is from BT.
Payment by credit card is requested immediately. The caller’s intention is to obtain the full credit card details including the three digit security number on the reverse of the card so further purchases can be made before the customer is aware of it.
PC Graham James, neighbourhood beat manager for South Molton, said: “Unfortunately there are fraudsters out there trying to con people out of money. Usually they target an area code (such as 01769 in this case) then move on when word spreads. Don’t be fooled by anyone calling you asking for money in this way.
“Please pass this message on to friends, family, and any elderly or vulnerable people that may be affected by this scam.”
If you have been a victim of the scam and lost money, please call the police on 08452 777444. Police would also like to hear from anyone who has been contacted where the caller failed to get any money as they may have information which could assist with the investigation.
How does it work?
The call is made from a withheld number, usually abroad. The telephone number provided by the caller is fictitious, although the correct number for BT Business is only one digit less than the number given in this example (0800 800 152).
Cutting off the line is very simple. The caller stays on the line with the mute button on and you cannot dial out, but they can hear you trying. (This is because the person who initiates a call is the one that terminates it). When you stop trying they cut off and immediately call back.