This week brought fantastic news for victims of telephone fraud as regulator PhonepayPlus confronted huge offender RS Premium with a whopping great fine and a ban on operating premium rate numbers.
The scam, a relatively unoriginal ‘call-us-back-and-we’ll-keep-you-on-rather-pricy-hold’ manoeuvre, targeted househunters and jobseekers – indeed, the vulnerability of the victims was part of the reason that PhonepayPlus came down so hard upon the perpetrators. Adverts and emails containing details of non-existent vacancies or properties lured eager and unsuspecting individuals into calling these 070 numbers back and waiting patiently on premium-rate hold whilst their phone bills rocketed into hyperspace.
It’s hard to track down exactly which calls are part of a certain scam as so many different numbers are used by the ‘artists’ to carry out their schemes and help them blend into a haze of anonymity. However, there are plenty of you reporting remarkably similar-sounding scams on tellows, all with scores of 7 or above. Have a gander…
‘Amy Pearce’ has been tirelessly sending emails offering jobs at the fictitious ‘SB Millers’ and may ask you to call back on 07030808243. Hannahayleigh wasn’t going to be caught out in a hurry:
Received a message saying I’d got through some kind of recruitment screening process and offering me a job. Deleted it straight away as I haven’t been on the job market for several years! Googled the agency and surprise surprise, it seems to be a fake. These people are a waste of space.
User GiGi also had her wits about her when asked to call 07030808244 back:
I got an email from this person, recruiting me for her company. I called them against my better judgement and was kept waiting on the phone for at least 7 minutes. If nothing else, that’s simply rude and I also realised that I had to pay for every minute…In the end they didn’t have any jobs to offer. I examined the email more closely and discovered that it didn’t look really professional, like with a signature and everything.
…and ‘Scammer finder’ simply cuts to the chase with some stern words of warning:
DO NOT PHONE AND WARN YOUR MATES AND WHOEVER ELSE. YOU’LL GET RIPPED OFF!!!
Similar scams frequently pop up on tellows and seem to be an ongoing problem; see this example, 07053500874, reported by Jskr late in 2012:
Received email from Tony Render offering interview with the department manager, Edie Wilson and told to contact this number. Checked on line to find it is a cost scam resulting in large bills. Do not reply!
070 numbers have been in question for a long while, as their closeness in appearance to mobile numbers renders them prime fraud-fodder and they unfortunately seem to proliferate on Gumtree; see this warning about 07053528945 from user, er, ‘Warning’:
its a rent SCAM to get you to call premium numbers. you call a normal mobile no and he tells you to call his girlfriend, then says you got the number wrong, bla bla bla. SCAM
RS Premium were charged ₤120,000 for their misconduct and it seems that Ofcom may be reevaluating their decision re: 070 numbers.
Phone owners: 1, Scammers: 0. There is hope, boys and girls.
Unfortunately, the wonderfully useful website Gumtree does seem to attract the occasional scammer amongst the bona fide individuals and organisations that advertise there. Just keep your eyes open for 070 numbers and try not to give personal details away until you’ve established a reasonable level of trust. The website itself offers some solid advice about how to protect yourself against potential fraudsters.
Keep reporting any dodgy dealings on tellows and do your fellow users a favour!
Your tellows team