Hornchurch residents latest victims of Guinea-Bissau phone fraud
18:00 24 July 2014
Puzzled residents fear they are the latest phone fraud victims after their bills showed hundreds of pounds of calls to west African nation Guinea-Bissau.
The four victims, from the Hornchurch and Elm Park areas, all deny they made the pricey international calls which took place over the same hours at the beginning of the month.
Rod Ballard, 51, of Grey Tower Gardens, was billed more than £500 for 55 six-minute calls to three different numbers.
He was alarmed to read in the Recorder that he was not the only victim.
Mr Ballard happens to be a phone expert and has worked in the telecommunications industry for 30 years.
He reckons that the technique being used this time is much more “sophisticated” than in previous attacks of so-called “teeing” – where green boxes in the streets are tampered with to make fraudulent calls.
Often, he said, residents down one road may be targeted by hacking one of the cabinets, owned by BT company Openreach. But these victims are all supplied by different boxes.
And all of the calls started late at night on July 4 and ended about 6am the next day.
Mr Ballard said: “It looks like multiple people targeting more than one cabinet, someone using autodialers, or perhaps someone at the telephone exchange up to no good.”
He recalled an incident at Covent Garden Telephone Exchange 20 years ago where this happened.
Duane Miller, 30, of Ullswater Way, was struck with a “ridiculous” bill of £350, which like the others he is trying to claim back.
Steve Roome, of High Street, supposedly made nearly £400 of calls despite admitting: “I didn’t even know where Guinea- Bissau was.”
John Thornborrow, 31, of Windermere Avenue, was billed nearly £200 for the international calls. He said that provider Zen was being “careful” about giving him a refund.
Openreach have not responded to the Recorder’s request for comment.
If you find fraudulent calls to Guinea-Bissau on your bill contact Sam on 0208 477 3892 or firstname.lastname@example.org