Homes hit by suspected phone scam in South Woodford street

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Six people in Pelham Road received bills of around £250. Six people in Pelham Road received bills of around £250.

At least six households in one street appear to have fallen victim to a phone scam after receiving bills including calls to places a far afield as Guinea Bissau and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

People living in Pelham Road, South Woodford, were charged about £250 each, with the bills showing the mystery calls were all made on the morning of April 19.

It appears they have fallen victim to a phone scam, but have yet to be told how security was breached.

Nathan Leaman-Hill, 44, received a £256 bill from Sky and has warned others to check their bills.

He said: “We all received a scare that morning. I found Sky had automatically shut down my landline to foreign calls and alerted me by text.

"I quickly got in touch with others in the street and they said they were having the same problem. It is a real surprise really as landlines are meant to be secure.

“We want to speak out and make sure everyone in the area checks their phone bills because they could be in for a nasty shock.

“You just imagine an old lady not fighting this bill, whereas we were all on the phone straight away to get this sorted.

If we were not so vigilant about it then we could have lost the money.

“We do not know what has happened.

Brian Phipps, 67, received a bill of around £200 from British Telecom, and is worried it could happen again.

He said: “We have received no guarantee that we will not see a repeat of this so it is worrying.

"I was not alerted to it happening, I was lucky we have a network here and Nathan contacted me.

“I checked my bills and couldn’t believe it, I just wondered what was going on really.

"I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have to pay the money as it was clearly not me.

“I was told by the call centre in India that I didn’t have an account, and then I was told it was impossible that this could happen.

“We want to know how and why this happened.”

The Guardian is awaiting a comment from Redbridge police.

Comments (24)

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9:55am Tue 13 May 14

T. Watts says...

What a great way to wriggle out of paying your phone bill! I hope the providers stringently checked the bills in question. People are up to all sorts these days to save a bit of cash...
What a great way to wriggle out of paying your phone bill! I hope the providers stringently checked the bills in question. People are up to all sorts these days to save a bit of cash... T. Watts
  • Score: -37

10:55am Tue 13 May 14

T. Watts says...

...also I hope the homes in question were properly checked to ensure there were no 'lodgers' intensively using the phones.
...also I hope the homes in question were properly checked to ensure there were no 'lodgers' intensively using the phones. T. Watts
  • Score: -36

12:15pm Tue 13 May 14

spcdust says...

T.Watts - I usually ignore the misguided ramblings of Trolls but in this case.....Why would you post such meaningless responses to this story if you have nothing of worth to add ?

As one of the people affected by this the only reason we highlighted this was a sense of responsibility to the wider community. Fortunately our street has a group email and it was only after a couple of us happened to mention that it had happened that we sent out a email to other residents and found out around 7 other households (and counting) had also had calls made on their line. The worrying thing was those customers with BT had an uphill struggle getting any sense out of them - spending upwards of two hours on the phone being passed from pillar to post and basically being told they must have called Bosnia and Guinea Bissau - calls collectively coming in at around £1500. The hoops BT made it's customers jump through was ridiculous reducing one of our fellow neighbours to tears in frustration and worry about how she was going to find over £200 for calls she never made, fortunately as she had the knowledge that others on the street had been affected she persevered. Just as a contrast those customers with Sky had a far better customer service experience than those with BT.

So, in summary, this story is about raising awareness that this is possible - there may be more vulnerable members of the community who would not have the tenacity and will power to battle through the BT machine. Alternatively they may unknowingly be billed for calls that their bank account cannot cover causing them undue hardship. This is what a local newspaper is about - not pointless responses that aren't even clever or funny.

Finally, one of the National Broadsheets is running a piece on this story, likely this week end, as they believe there are serious questions BT need to answer as they still claim this cannot happen.
T.Watts - I usually ignore the misguided ramblings of Trolls but in this case.....Why would you post such meaningless responses to this story if you have nothing of worth to add ? As one of the people affected by this the only reason we highlighted this was a sense of responsibility to the wider community. Fortunately our street has a group email and it was only after a couple of us happened to mention that it had happened that we sent out a email to other residents and found out around 7 other households (and counting) had also had calls made on their line. The worrying thing was those customers with BT had an uphill struggle getting any sense out of them - spending upwards of two hours on the phone being passed from pillar to post and basically being told they must have called Bosnia and Guinea Bissau - calls collectively coming in at around £1500. The hoops BT made it's customers jump through was ridiculous reducing one of our fellow neighbours to tears in frustration and worry about how she was going to find over £200 for calls she never made, fortunately as she had the knowledge that others on the street had been affected she persevered. Just as a contrast those customers with Sky had a far better customer service experience than those with BT. So, in summary, this story is about raising awareness that this is possible - there may be more vulnerable members of the community who would not have the tenacity and will power to battle through the BT machine. Alternatively they may unknowingly be billed for calls that their bank account cannot cover causing them undue hardship. This is what a local newspaper is about - not pointless responses that aren't even clever or funny. Finally, one of the National Broadsheets is running a piece on this story, likely this week end, as they believe there are serious questions BT need to answer as they still claim this cannot happen. spcdust
  • Score: 32

2:39pm Tue 13 May 14

T. Watts says...

@spcdust

Actually I have made my comments out of my 'sense of responsibility to the wider community'.

I was just making sure that all the right checks had been done to make sure this wasn't a criminal scam. I must say your angry outburst does suggest to me that you have something to hide. For all we know all the people in that road have been recruited into the same gang. Funny it's happening in your road but nowhere else. If it was as easy to perpetrate as you suggest then it should be happening everywhere. If you're not happy with your 'story' undergoing scrutiny then I suggest you be quiet.
@spcdust Actually I have made my comments out of my 'sense of responsibility to the wider community'. I was just making sure that all the right checks had been done to make sure this wasn't a criminal scam. I must say your angry outburst does suggest to me that you have something to hide. For all we know all the people in that road have been recruited into the same gang. Funny it's happening in your road but nowhere else. If it was as easy to perpetrate as you suggest then it should be happening everywhere. If you're not happy with your 'story' undergoing scrutiny then I suggest you be quiet. T. Watts
  • Score: -22

3:17pm Tue 13 May 14

spcdust says...

T.Watts, you have no idea of community responsibility as is evident from your ridiculous posts on this website which dilute any real discussion on local issues - you even talk with yourself by posting under multiple poster names (look up what an IP addresses can tell you). Your supposed scrutiny doesn't stand up as there is no due process involved and it's just random wild card presumptions.

I will now revert to my usual stance of not feeding the Trolls - discussion from my end is closed.
T.Watts, you have no idea of community responsibility as is evident from your ridiculous posts on this website which dilute any real discussion on local issues - you even talk with yourself by posting under multiple poster names (look up what an IP addresses can tell you). Your supposed scrutiny doesn't stand up as there is no due process involved and it's just random wild card presumptions. I will now revert to my usual stance of not feeding the Trolls - discussion from my end is closed. spcdust
  • Score: 23

3:23pm Tue 13 May 14

ChazFinch says...

Have to wonder if someone has worked out how to hack the BT smart talk thing?
Have to wonder if someone has worked out how to hack the BT smart talk thing? ChazFinch
  • Score: 7

3:33pm Tue 13 May 14

spcdust says...

Sorry, meant to say - we are such master criminals we perpetrated a crime which we don't profit from and then contact the local paper to cast light on our dastardly deed.
Sorry, meant to say - we are such master criminals we perpetrated a crime which we don't profit from and then contact the local paper to cast light on our dastardly deed. spcdust
  • Score: 7

3:40pm Tue 13 May 14

T. Watts says...

@spcdust

Yeah, as I suspected - there's more to this than meets the eye...
@spcdust Yeah, as I suspected - there's more to this than meets the eye... T. Watts
  • Score: -18

3:56pm Tue 13 May 14

spcdust says...

@ChazFinch

Although BT have yet to supply an official and coherent explanation they, depending which department you speak with, have said some contradictory things including:

1. This can't happen.
2. This is likely an inside job (unconfirmed)
3. This happens all the time

As I said, one of the National Broadsheets has taken up the story as I believe they have had other complaints of this happening but the fact that a street was targeted obviously gives it a good story angle.

The Street only contacted the local press as an awareness exercise to save any one in the community who may be more isolated / vunerable to give them, or their family, a reference point if they experience anything similar. I would hate to think of anyone being unduly stressed and anxious if they were a victim of this and felt unable to challenge the bureaucracy of BT. Ultimately BT acknowledged the fraudulent use but those who have their telephony with BT were literally passed from pillar to post as the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing.
@ChazFinch Although BT have yet to supply an official and coherent explanation they, depending which department you speak with, have said some contradictory things including: 1. This can't happen. 2. This is likely an inside job (unconfirmed) 3. This happens all the time As I said, one of the National Broadsheets has taken up the story as I believe they have had other complaints of this happening but the fact that a street was targeted obviously gives it a good story angle. The Street only contacted the local press as an awareness exercise to save any one in the community who may be more isolated / vunerable to give them, or their family, a reference point if they experience anything similar. I would hate to think of anyone being unduly stressed and anxious if they were a victim of this and felt unable to challenge the bureaucracy of BT. Ultimately BT acknowledged the fraudulent use but those who have their telephony with BT were literally passed from pillar to post as the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing. spcdust
  • Score: 8

4:39pm Tue 13 May 14

T. Watts says...

Direct quote:

"2. This is likely an inside job "
Direct quote: "2. This is likely an inside job " T. Watts
  • Score: -9

4:43pm Tue 13 May 14

spcdust says...

As within the BT exchange
As within the BT exchange spcdust
  • Score: 6

4:57pm Tue 13 May 14

T. Watts says...

Yeah, right....
Yeah, right.... T. Watts
  • Score: -13

9:53pm Tue 13 May 14

Tarsier says...

I've just been contacted by a relative who lives in South Woodford on a different street, where this has also happened. They received a £400 bill!
I've just been contacted by a relative who lives in South Woodford on a different street, where this has also happened. They received a £400 bill! Tarsier
  • Score: 8

3:57pm Wed 14 May 14

dirtyarticle says...

If someone opened a BT green box or a man hole perhaps in someones garden I'm sure it would be extremely easy to use someone else's line and run up a bill!

BT lines aren't encrypted just a case of connecting cables if you have a convenient place to do so.
If someone opened a BT green box or a man hole perhaps in someones garden I'm sure it would be extremely easy to use someone else's line and run up a bill! BT lines aren't encrypted just a case of connecting cables if you have a convenient place to do so. dirtyarticle
  • Score: 5

11:04pm Wed 14 May 14

big_pause says...

We're on Orford Road, and know a few folks on Pelham, our road was also hit, BT and Sky customers only (we're with Virgin).

BT have been really bad, service wise on this, even suggesting to a neighbour that her husband may have been calling 'a girlfriend' in Bosnia, while she was asleep.

Oh and remember, don't feed that (obvious) troll.
We're on Orford Road, and know a few folks on Pelham, our road was also hit, BT and Sky customers only (we're with Virgin). BT have been really bad, service wise on this, even suggesting to a neighbour that her husband may have been calling 'a girlfriend' in Bosnia, while she was asleep. Oh and remember, don't feed that (obvious) troll. big_pause
  • Score: 5

12:15am Thu 15 May 14

spcdust says...

That seems to be the theme, customers with BT had a hell of a time battling through the BT "customer service" where as those with Sky, like myself, had a much more easy, quick and sympathetic resolution. One of our neighbours, who is with BT, was literally reduced to tears with worry as she tried to battle with them. On average those with BT spent over 2 hours+ on the phone with them trying to get it sorted whilst contending with comments suggesting they must have made the calls or maybe whilst they were out someone made the calls.
That seems to be the theme, customers with BT had a hell of a time battling through the BT "customer service" where as those with Sky, like myself, had a much more easy, quick and sympathetic resolution. One of our neighbours, who is with BT, was literally reduced to tears with worry as she tried to battle with them. On average those with BT spent over 2 hours+ on the phone with them trying to get it sorted whilst contending with comments suggesting they must have made the calls or maybe whilst they were out someone made the calls. spcdust
  • Score: 4

12:17am Thu 15 May 14

Villagecranberry says...

Maybe it was a crossed line or someone left the phone off the hook? Either way T Watts has no right to accuse people of stealing electricity which is what he is effectively alleging or obtaining services by deception.

Shame on TWAtts.
Maybe it was a crossed line or someone left the phone off the hook? Either way T Watts has no right to accuse people of stealing electricity which is what he is effectively alleging or obtaining services by deception. Shame on TWAtts. Villagecranberry
  • Score: -2

9:14am Thu 15 May 14

T. Watts says...

Villagecranberry wrote:
Maybe it was a crossed line or someone left the phone off the hook? Either way T Watts has no right to accuse people of stealing electricity which is what he is effectively alleging or obtaining services by deception.

Shame on TWAtts.
Perhaps it was the green toothed lefties on the Orford Road, eh Cornbeefur!?

Surprised it's taken you so long to troll this thread!

If you read my posts I actually didn't accuse anyone - I merely enquired if all other possibilities had been looked into - then certain people with guilty consciences (no names spcdust) suddenly got very irate that I even suggested it!
[quote][p][bold]Villagecranberry[/bold] wrote: Maybe it was a crossed line or someone left the phone off the hook? Either way T Watts has no right to accuse people of stealing electricity which is what he is effectively alleging or obtaining services by deception. Shame on TWAtts.[/p][/quote]Perhaps it was the green toothed lefties on the Orford Road, eh Cornbeefur!? Surprised it's taken you so long to troll this thread! If you read my posts I actually didn't accuse anyone - I merely enquired if all other possibilities had been looked into - then certain people with guilty consciences (no names spcdust) suddenly got very irate that I even suggested it! T. Watts
  • Score: -7

10:21pm Thu 15 May 14

Tarsier says...

T. Watts wrote:
Villagecranberry wrote:
Maybe it was a crossed line or someone left the phone off the hook? Either way T Watts has no right to accuse people of stealing electricity which is what he is effectively alleging or obtaining services by deception.

Shame on TWAtts.
Perhaps it was the green toothed lefties on the Orford Road, eh Cornbeefur!?

Surprised it's taken you so long to troll this thread!

If you read my posts I actually didn't accuse anyone - I merely enquired if all other possibilities had been looked into - then certain people with guilty consciences (no names spcdust) suddenly got very irate that I even suggested it!
@TWatts
"If you read my posts I actually didn't accuse anyone - I merely enquired if all other possibilities had been looked into"

Well let's just do that shall we. Your first two comments:

"What a great way to wriggle out of paying your phone bill!"

The clear implication of this comment is that the affected people are attempting to avoid paying a legimate bill, ie that they are lying.

"I hope the providers stringently checked the bills in question. People are up to all sorts these days to save a bit of cash..."

Again the clear implication is that the affected people are doing something wrong to avoid paying their bills.

"...also I hope the homes in question were properly checked to ensure there were no 'lodgers' intensively using the phones."

Again you are clearly suggesting that the phone calls were legimate.

Now let's view that in the context of the article. At least six properties, all on the same street, have excessive bills run up on a single morning, with calls to very unusual locations. A reasonable person would quickly see that it is highly unlikely that there is some kind of group attempt to defraud BT and there is more likely to be a problem with either the exchange or cabinet. So your comments don't come across as 'enquiries', they come across precisely as accusations.
[quote][p][bold]T. Watts[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Villagecranberry[/bold] wrote: Maybe it was a crossed line or someone left the phone off the hook? Either way T Watts has no right to accuse people of stealing electricity which is what he is effectively alleging or obtaining services by deception. Shame on TWAtts.[/p][/quote]Perhaps it was the green toothed lefties on the Orford Road, eh Cornbeefur!? Surprised it's taken you so long to troll this thread! If you read my posts I actually didn't accuse anyone - I merely enquired if all other possibilities had been looked into - then certain people with guilty consciences (no names spcdust) suddenly got very irate that I even suggested it![/p][/quote]@TWatts "If you read my posts I actually didn't accuse anyone - I merely enquired if all other possibilities had been looked into" Well let's just do that shall we. Your first two comments: "What a great way to wriggle out of paying your phone bill!" The clear implication of this comment is that the affected people are attempting to avoid paying a legimate bill, ie that they are lying. "I hope the providers stringently checked the bills in question. People are up to all sorts these days to save a bit of cash..." Again the clear implication is that the affected people are doing something wrong to avoid paying their bills. "...also I hope the homes in question were properly checked to ensure there were no 'lodgers' intensively using the phones." Again you are clearly suggesting that the phone calls were legimate. Now let's view that in the context of the article. At least six properties, all on the same street, have excessive bills run up on a single morning, with calls to very unusual locations. A reasonable person would quickly see that it is highly unlikely that there is some kind of group attempt to defraud BT and there is more likely to be a problem with either the exchange or cabinet. So your comments don't come across as 'enquiries', they come across precisely as accusations. Tarsier
  • Score: 1

11:42am Fri 16 May 14

T. Watts says...

@Tarsier

So, you're one of the houses in question are you? Sounds like you're feeling the heat a little. I wonder why....
@Tarsier So, you're one of the houses in question are you? Sounds like you're feeling the heat a little. I wonder why.... T. Watts
  • Score: -3

9:03am Sat 17 May 14

StanE11 says...

This is called "teeing in", it means someone hacks into your line then dials premium rate numbers. According to a telecoms veteran, it can happen at the green boxes on street corners, or most likely, at the junction box next to the victim's home. While it's a fraud that can happen to any of us, few people are aware of it, and the telecoms industry appears to want to keep it quiet.
This is called "teeing in", it means someone hacks into your line then dials premium rate numbers. According to a telecoms veteran, it can happen at the green boxes on street corners, or most likely, at the junction box next to the victim's home. While it's a fraud that can happen to any of us, few people are aware of it, and the telecoms industry appears to want to keep it quiet. StanE11
  • Score: 3

9:04am Sat 17 May 14

StanE11 says...

T. Watts wrote:
@Tarsier

So, you're one of the houses in question are you? Sounds like you're feeling the heat a little. I wonder why....
A BT spokesman said: "The telephone lines of several Pelham Road residents were targeted by a criminal gang making fraudulent calls to international numbers. As a result of an investigation by the police and BT, three people were arrested and have been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Apology due, I think.
[quote][p][bold]T. Watts[/bold] wrote: @Tarsier So, you're one of the houses in question are you? Sounds like you're feeling the heat a little. I wonder why....[/p][/quote]A BT spokesman said: "The telephone lines of several Pelham Road residents were targeted by a criminal gang making fraudulent calls to international numbers. As a result of an investigation by the police and BT, three people were arrested and have been released on police bail pending further inquiries. Apology due, I think. StanE11
  • Score: 2

9:04pm Sun 18 May 14

stickmanny says...

BT are masters of sharp practice and will only accept responsibility for problems as a last resort.

My BT landline bill arrived a few days before my two week summer holiday. By the time I'd got home they had disconnected me and charged an 'early termination fee'. That was 20 years ago and I've never given them a penny since. Had the misfortune to deal with them at work 5 years ago - same attitude.

They were better in the public sector eh Cornbeefur?
BT are masters of sharp practice and will only accept responsibility for problems as a last resort. My BT landline bill arrived a few days before my two week summer holiday. By the time I'd got home they had disconnected me and charged an 'early termination fee'. That was 20 years ago and I've never given them a penny since. Had the misfortune to deal with them at work 5 years ago - same attitude. They were better in the public sector eh Cornbeefur? stickmanny
  • Score: 0

11:34am Tue 20 May 14

DBlower says...

This has happened to us - 20th/21st of April. Kingspark Court, South Woodford - £125.58 via seven calls to Guinea B'sau. BT calling me back tonight
This has happened to us - 20th/21st of April. Kingspark Court, South Woodford - £125.58 via seven calls to Guinea B'sau. BT calling me back tonight DBlower
  • Score: 0

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