Scam dismissed as

By David LennardA SUPPOSED telephone scam where people could be conned out of more than £200 at a time has been dismissed as an “urban myth”.Suffolk police, along with other forces in the country, has passed on a warning about the scam through its network of Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators.

By David Lennard

A SUPPOSED telephone scam where people could be conned out of more than £200 at a time has been dismissed as an “urban myth”.

Suffolk police, along with other forces in the country, has passed on a warning about the scam through its network of Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators.

Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators in the Halesworth and Southwold areas were among those who passed on the warning as soon as they were informed about the scam.


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“It was possible that people could lose a lot of money very quickly and I felt that something had to be done,” said one north Suffolk Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator.

Under the supposed scam, when a householder answered their telephone, a message was heard congratulating the person and saying they had won a holiday.

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The message then told the person to press 9 on the telephone keypad. Police warned people not to press 9 under any circumstances as the call was then charged at a premium rate of £20 a minute.

The warning went on to say that even if the phone was placed back on the receiver, the five-minute registration continued, costing the person £100.

If the caller did not hang up, the message lasted for 11 minutes before the recipient was told they were not a winner after all, with the call costing £220.

A BT spokeswoman said she was aware of the problem and added: “We realise that police forces are acting in good faith in passing on these warnings, but this is really an urban myth and a scam of this type is not technically possible.

“There are no premium lines charging £20 a minute and there is no evidence of any BT customer having such items on a telephone bill.”

The spokeswoman said BT and premium line watchdog, Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services, were contacting police forces about the problem.

Suffolk police decided to inform their Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators after similar warnings were given out in Essex.

A spokesman for Essex Police said a member of the county's crime and disorder partnership had received a warning about the scam and it had been decided to pass the warning on.

Police forces across the country who had issued warnings are now updating the advice given to Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators.

david.lennard@eadt.co.uk

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