Telephone tricksters stirring up trouble for businesses

Businesses across the West Midlands are being targeted in a new telephone scam known as “spoofing”. There has been a recent surge in cases nationwide.

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Businesses across the West Midlands are being targeted in a new telephone scam known as “spoofing”. There has been a recent surge in cases nationwide.

The practice sees a phone number copied and then used to make thousands of nusiance calls, often waking households up in the middle of the night.

Communciations regulator Ofcom has launched an investigation. Among the victims is a businessman from Wolverhampton, who is receiving death threats after his phone number was spoofed and used to call more than 30,000 people across the country.

Stephen Davies is receiving 20 complaints a minute to his work answer machines from angry people who have been called in the early hours.

Websites

Dozens of websites have now popped up offering spoofing services, which let people keep their telephone identity a secret by ripping off another number and making it appear they are calling from somewhere else.

But Ofcom said there was no reason for the act as the calls were not selling anything or promoting a premium rate number.

A spokesman said: “This is something we haven’t heard about for a while and then a number of phone calls have come through to us in the last few days from people around the country.

“There doesn’t seem to be any logic behind this caller ID spoofing as they aren’t selling anything or asking people to call premium rate numbers.” Currently, on his answerphone, Mr Davies, who owns We Solve IT in Bilston, has a Scottish man threatening to kill him, an elderly woman from Birmingham tearfully telling him he made her sick with worry and a father-of-two from Cornwall shouting abuse.

The 41-year-old’s business numbers were spoofed on Monday – and already other West Midlands firms have fallen victim, including Bridgehouse Partners solicitors in Newhall Street, Birmingham. Mr Davies, from Penn, said victims had even managed to track down his home number and dish out insults to his wife Kerry, who stays at home with their two young children.

“If victims manage to answer the phone, it seems it either goes dead or there is a voice telling them ‘that extension is no longer available’ before cutting off,” he said. “We’ve complained to our phone company and to Ofcom but they say because the calls are coming from outside the country there isn’t much they can do.

“Whoever is doing it is a horrible person as I’ve spoken to people who have been deeply upset by the phone calls. Lots of people said they thought it was a call to tell them their elderly mother or father was dead, others were just upset that it had woken the whole household.”

Mr Davies’s phone provider Telappliant said an initial investigation had confirmed the spoof calls were not made over its network.

Marketing manager Tommy Powell said: “There are many unscrupulous telephone companies who will happily pass any caller ID, regardless of the rightful owner of the number.”

Bridgehouse Partners became victims of spoofing on Tuesday. Joanne Foreman, PA and office manager said: “These calls have had an awful effect.”