Wednesday 8 August 2012

Scams - Mrs M and the iPhone

A brief diversion from this blog's usual diet of council matters to describe a sophisticated scam carried out on Mrs M, a local woman who is a retired school teacher.
Mrs M received an iPhone4 from Dialaphone (special delivery) and because there was no way she had ordered such a thing, was beginning to think someone had kindly sent her a present until she noticed the direct debit mandate for £41 a month made out in her name but from a bank account she does not possess.  The documentation was in Mrs M's name, with her correct address, her date of birth but an incorrect phone number.  
It took an Internet search to track down a telephone number for Dialaphone, and she eventually got through to their customer services where she was told that she was the fourth person the adviser had spoken to this week to whom the same thing had happened.  The adviser said she would send a prepaid label to return it via the post office, but warned that Mrs M that she would get a telephone call from a scammer saying that she had been sent the phone by mistake and a courier would collect it from her home.

Sure enough, within minutes a very dodgy sounding individual with a West African accent rang her saying that he was from Dialaphone, that their computer system had crashed and that she had been sent the phone by mistake.  Mrs M played an Oscar-winning performance as a confused Welsh pensioner, and the Nigerian caller got fed up in the end and said he'd have to speak to his "manager". 

Mrs M then had another phone call from a different dodgy sounding individual with a similar accent who went through the same performance saying he was from Dialaphone. Mrs M, who was enjoying herself by now, told the caller that she did not know anyone in Darlington.

"No, Dialaphone" - "What, Darlington?  But I don't know anyone from Darlington".  She was having a lovely time.  The caller eventually told Mrs M that she was on their database and that a courier would collect the iPhone.

Next morning someone dressed in a Parcelforce jacket, but driving an anonymous white van came to collect the phone.  He didn't seem too pleased when Mrs M told him she had already sent it back via the post office.  The pre-paid label arrived the next day and she duly returned the phone and thought that was the end of the matter.

A few days later Mrs M received a letter from Vodaphone thanking her for choosing their service and confirming her direct debit instructions for a Halifax bank account; Mrs M does not bank with the Halifax.  She then made more phone calls and discovered that a contract had been set up by Dialaphone but had since been cancelled. She is still waiting for written confirmation of that.

Yesterday Mrs M had yet another phone call from a somewhat more articulate Nigerian saying that he knew she had signed for the phone and someone would be coming to collect it.  Her response was
"Tough - I've already sent it back to Dialaphone and I know exactly what your game is," and put the phone down. 

The fraudsters met their match in Mrs M, who is rather smarter than they are, but it is worrying to think that other victims would be left having to pay for a phone they didn't have. 

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