South Woodford residents lose thousands after phone hackers strike

Phone scam victims: (left to right) Nikki Christie, 40, Nathan Leaman-Hill, 44 and Brian Phills, 67

Phone scam victims: (left to right) Nikki Christie, 40, Nathan Leaman-Hill, 44 and Brian Phills, 67 - Credit: Archant

Residents of a South Woodford street were charged hundreds of pounds after their phones were hacked into by a gang who made fraud calls overseas.

People living in Pelham Road, South Woodford, were shocked when their phone bills arrived this month to see that they had been charged an average of £1,000 in total for calls made to countries such as Guinea Bissau and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

One victim, Nikki Christie, 40, said: “When I opened up my phone bill, I was shocked to see I had been charged so much for a call I never made.

“I just want an explanation about why this happened and if there will be a risk of this happening again.”

At least six houses in Pelham Road were hit with the same large phone bill, for calls apparently made in the early hours of April 19, all lasting more than seven minutes.

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Resident Brian Phipps, 67, who was charged about £200, said: “I called BT and they told me I didn’t have to pay the amount as it clearly wasn’t me, but it does make you think if things such as phone and online banking are actually safe to use.”

Nathan Leaman-Hill, 44, who was given a refund of £256, said; “It is really worrying that this can happen and it is a good thing we’re very determined people, as those more vulnerable could be at risk of being taken advantage of.”

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A BT statement said: “Scams and incidents like this are taken extremely seriously and we work extensively with our industry partners and the police to eliminate them.

“We will continue to work with the police on this particular case so that the people responsible are brought to justice.

“Our advice to any customer who has unexpected charges on their bill from numbers that they have not called is to contact their phone supplier to report what has happened.”

n Three people were arrested last month, then released on bail pending further inquiries.

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