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Fraud charges follow abuse of BT 0800 test number

User allegedly clocks up 680 hours online –- now facing hefty bill

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An anonymous Net user has been accused of fraud and threatened with legal action for using a toll-free number to access the Web that was reserved for use by BT staff. A letter, purportedly sent by BT customer relations manager Keith Lawton, orders the unnamed customer to cough up for the 680 hours and 45 minutes spent online illegally -- or face legal action. The letter also warns the crafty BT customer that if he/she does it again, the police will be called "with a view to criminal charges being brought". Having already issued a warning to stop using the number, Lawton wrote: "By continuing to use that freephone number you have committed fraud against us." "As you have knowingly used our internal ISP without our express authorisation, we are billing you for all the time that you have been online using our freephone number by converting all time spent online to a national number," Lawton wrote. There is no indication exactly how much the bill is for but it could run into many hundreds of pounds. A spokesman for BT said the company would not comment on an individual customer's bill and also questioned the validity of the letter It could be genuine, or it could be a hoax, he said. Since no one is prepared to say one way or the other, The Register has decided to let its readers decide whether it's kosher or not. If you want to see the letter click here. Yesterday, The Register revealed how Net users ran amok after the number and access details of a BT freephone number used for V90 modem trials were published in newsgroups over the weekend. ®

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