Message received from Head of Security (University of Winchester), from a colleague in another university.
“The new telephone ‘scam’ has arrived. 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 £118.00 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 realised I wasn’t believing 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. 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.”
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.