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Message from a friend:

I received a call from a 'representative' of BT, informing me that he was disconnecting me because of an unpaid bill. He demanded payment immediately of £31.00, or it would be £118 to re-connect at a later date.

The guy wasn't even fazed when I told him I was with Virgin Media, allegedly VM have to pay BT a percentage for line rental! I asked the guy's name - the very 'English' John Peacock with a very 'African' accent - & phone number - 0800 0800 152 0800 0800 152. Obviously the fella realized I didn’t believe his story, so offered to demonstrate that he was from BT. I asked how & he told me to hang up & 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 & he said credit card, there & 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 Did 1471 & phoned his fictitious 0800 number – not recognised. 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 know by word of mouth of this scam. The fact that the phone does go off would probably convince some people it's real, so please let as many friends & family aware of this.

This is good but not that clever. He gave the wrong number - it should have been 0800 800152 0800 800152 which takes you through to BT Business. The cutting off of the line is very simple he stays on the line with the mute button on and 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 and immediately calls back. You could almost be convinced! The sad thing is that it is so simple that it will certainly fool the elderly and vulnerable. Obviously, if this scam is real, once they have your credit/debit card details, there is nothing to stop them cleaning out your account.

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More information on http://www.hoax-slayer.com/bt-unpaid-bill-phone-scam.shtml.'>http://www.hoax-slayer.com/bt-unpaid-bill-phone-scam.shtml. 'The elderly and vulnerable' is an interesting phrase. Having once been relieved by a con-artist of most of my money whilst hitch-hiking to Rome, I'm inclined to think that 'the young, naive, and vulnerable' are also at risk. Perhaps most people are vulnerable unless they habitually apply an electron microscope to every single proposition they are presented with - so all members of this Forum should be O.K.

About a month ago I had an interesting phonecall. A woman made the initial call 'from a company with a connection with Microsoft', and then handed me over to an 'engineer'. Apparently they'd scanned my computer and if I didn't do something about it immediately it was going to break down. The 'engineer' didn't like being asked about his 'company' and rang off.

N.B. The specific link above no longer (19.8.2010) works but http://www.hoax-slayer.com seems to be a good website for checking on scams, and particularly for sorting out the real threats from the mere nuisances and the 'Chinese whispers'.

Edited by Norman Pratt

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