Fake call centres in India target local residents with ‘BT’ security scam

Monday 20 May 2019

Fake call centres in India are targeting Inverclyde people by claiming to be from BT’s security team. The scammers tell local residents that their Internet access is about to be cut off because their account has been hacked.

The scammers use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to make it look like the calls are coming from a local number. VoIP allows scammers to buy a phone number for any town or city and divert it to their own number. Consumers may think they are phoning a local company but the business can actually be anywhere in the world.

Hugh McMillan, 63, from Greenock, said, “I had a call on the landline and the caller ID said it was an 01475 number. It was an automated message which said that my Internet would be shut down in 24 hours because my account had been hacked.

“The message said to push button 1 so I did. I was put through to a man with an Indian accent. There was a lot of background noise and it sounded like he was in a call centre. He said he was security from BT. I said I was with Sky and he said that they covered Sky, Virgin and BT as well.

“He asked me to turn on my laptop. He took me through a procedure which brought up an IP address (Internet Protocol – a computer’s unique address when using the Internet) which he claimed belonged to a hacker in California.

“I asked him if he was really from BT and he got a wee bit ratty to say the least!

“He told me to call BT on 0203 290 0836. He said this was BT’s number and that I should give them the engineer ID BT0075. I was really suspicious by now and my wife said, ‘Hang up.’”

A spokesperson for Inverclyde Council said, “In November and December last year Indian police raided 26 call centres in Delhi and Noida and arrested over 176 people because of their alleged involvement in scams.

“This is a huge, professional, well-organised operation and clearly the scammers are back in business despite last year’s arrests. The London number that Hugh was given has been used for scams before.

“This is a common scam and we’ve had a number of calls about people claiming to be from BT. Scammers try to make you feel under threat and under pressure. Scams often involve some sort of time limit.

“The scammers try to get access to your computer so that they can download your personal or bank details or install spyware or ransomware (spyware tracks which keys are pushed on a computer and can be used to learn passwords. Ransomware stops a person from being able to access their computer or personal files until a ‘ransom’ is paid).

“The other form this scam takes is that the victim is told there is a virus on their computer. The operator then talks the victim through a fake fix before charging them for the work.

“Never call a number you are given, never download an unexpected attachment and never click on a link in a suspicious email. If you need to call you bank there is usually a number on the bank of your credit or debit card. Use this.”

Page last updated: 20 May 2019