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Phone companies hang up on fraudsters in Dorset

Dorset Police have been working with telecoms operators in the area to prevent fraudsters catching out unsuspecting elderly and vulnerable victims, by reducing the amount of time a line stays open after the recipient has tried to disconnect the call.

The most recent telecoms operator to join police in the fight against phone fraud, also known as courier fraud, is BT.

BT has significantly reduced the time that a phone line stays open in Dorset to two seconds, which means that the person who has received the call can make another call almost immediately without the other person staying on the line.

Criminals relied on lines staying open to continue their scam.

Fraudsters rang their victims and pretended to be from the police, their bank or a retailer and told them that their account had been compromised and they needed to transfer the money over to them for safe keeping or send it to them via courier.

They instructed the worried victim to ring them back to ensure the call was genuine. But in fact, they stayed on the line, so once the caller thought they were speaking to someone in authority, they were actually speaking to criminals who were pretending to be someone else.

The fraudsters have cost Dorset residents over £1 million over the last 15 months. The total amount lost per month has declined since March 2015.

There were 178 offences of telephone fraud reported to Dorset Police in March this year, with 19 losses totalling nearly £130,000. In April, there were 168 reports with six losses, totalling £46,000 and 15 offences were reported to the police in May, totalling £21,500 from three victims.

The last report of telephone fraud was on Friday 22 May 2015.

Detective Chief Inspector, Jez Noyce said: “We have worked with the telecoms companies to shut down the lines which have previously been kept open until both parties hang up.

“The latest figures show that this tactic, along with partnership working and our social media campaign ‘Hang Up On Fraudsters’, has obviously helped reduce the number of victims considerably, which is good news for everyone.

“However, we are still investigating these crimes and want to hear from anyone who believes they have been targeted by these heartless gangs.

“We have released a recording of a 68-year-old pensioner being scammed by a real criminal, so we’d like everyone to listen to this so that they can hear how convincing they can be to the untrained ear.

“Please remember that no-one from any institution, including the police and your bank, will ever ask you to disclose your account number and Personal Identification Number (PIN) over the phone.

“Be on your guard if someone calls you and asks you to give out this private information – they’re crooks. Help us shut down their operations and always Hang Up On Fraudsters.”

BT has confirmed it has cut the open line time down to two seconds for all Dorset exchanges. Paul Coles, BT South West Regional Manager, said: “We are committed to minimising the potential for fraud and very much welcome the opportunity to work with Dorset Police to tackle this problem.

“We have cut the ‘holding the line open’ time to two seconds for all of BT’s telephone exchanges in Dorset and are working hard to raise awareness of scams in order to protect customers through articles on our website by supporting the police and by using social media.

“We recognise that the target group of victims is elderly people and the tone of our messaging is raising awareness of the scam and to tell your friends and family about it.”

Visit the BT website here


Police Advisory Guidelines:

  • The police, bank or retailer will NEVER call you asking for your bank details
  • NEVER give out your bank details or Personal Identification Number (PIN) over the phone
  • NEVER send money or cash cards via taxi or courier
  • If you receive a suspicious call, hang up, wait five minutes (or use a different phone), dial 1471 and then call the police immediately on 101


Issued: 5 May 2015